Contemporary Craft has long celebrated its unique location in the Strip District Produce Terminal as a source of endless creative inspiration. The urban environment has infused countless exhibitions, studio workshops, and programs with the gritty charm central to the neighborhood’s identity. Each summer, the organization invites an artist to create a body of work reflecting the hustle, bustle, history, and magic of the historic neighborhood as part of its Artist-in-Residence program. This year’s resident, Christian Morris, will take the residency experience one step further.
A senior at California State University Channel Islands in Camarillo, CA, Morris’s primary artistic focus is the exploration of identity through an intriguing combination of method acting and ceramics. This summer, he will engage Strip District residents, business owners, and visitors in interviews about the neighborhood that will be incorporated into an interactive installation of clay and sound.
Titled “Practices of Listening,” the project will focus on questions about art, craft, identity, history, and technology. Morris will interview community members using his training in the Meisner method of acting; a process during which he reflects back to the public their own emotions and responses as a way of actively listening. Segments from the recorded interviews will be incorporated into an interactive “map” made of ceramic speakers.
When not out in the Pittsburgh community conducting interviews, Morris will be working in a temporary studio located in Contemporary Craft’s main gallery space. The summer residency program fulfills one of Contemporary Craft’s core values of using art to strengthen community, and a significant part of the artist’s experience will be interacting with the diverse visitors that pass through the doors of this free-of-charge arts organization. As the Strip District undergoes widespread development and change, Contemporary Craft aims to use art and art making to provide a strong and lasting sense of neighborhood identity. Known as “creative placemaking,” projects like Morris’ forge a memorable connection between the public and a specific place.
Christian Morris will be in Contemporary Craft’s gallery space and available to interact with the public Tuesday through Saturday, 12 – 5 PM beginning on Tuesday, May 31, 2016. He can be found strolling the Strip looking for interview subjects from 10 AM – 12 PM on those same days. The residency will come to a close on Saturday, August 27, 2016. The public is encouraged to visit often to watch Morris’ project expand throughout the summer months.