"Everyone's doing their own thing, but it fits together," says Morgan Cahn, one of the artists in the Brew House's new Distillery Program. The six-month residency program's culminating exhibition, Higher Proof, features work by Cahn and Anne Angyal, Adam Grossi, Nicholas Hohman, Jeremy Radtke and Carolyn Wenning.
Cahn is contributing an installation involving appliquéd sea creatures (ranging from a blue-ringed octopus to a sea turtle to a hermit crab) that inhabit a walk-in "water form" made of fabric, and complete with ocean sounds. The project, titled "How to answer when water asks you a question," includes embroidered information about water. "I'm going to try to represent a lot of the different ecosystems," she says.
The Distillery Program was created by Tessa Windt, a board member of the Brew House artists' co-op, with funding from the Brew House and the Sprout Fund. The idea is to help young artists to explore career opportunities and develop their work.
Distillery Program artists attended monthly workshops about different aspects of the art world. Guest presenters included curator Graham Shearing, Carnegie Mellon faculty member Sarah Eldridge (who helped the artists write about their art) and Susan Blackman, director of grant programs for the Greater Pittsburgh Arts Council. The artists also discussed their ideas with each other at meetings and via e-mail.
"I saw the postcard calling for applications and I thought, 'I must be in this program,'" says Cahn. "I've learned so much."
"It has a lot of the advantages people in grad school get," says Angyal.
Angyal's project is also water-related. She photographed Duquesne University swimmers, two men and one woman, in an office setting, wearing gold swimsuits and body paint. Her large-scale photographs emphasize muscle, veins, water droplets on the skin. "Swimmers' bodies are powerful, and they have so much muscle definition," she says. "They're also in a pool most of the time, so it's like they live in a different world."
Other artists' projects use a wide array of media and focus on such topics as navigation, space and decay. "We looked at the gallery space and what they wanted to show, and it seemed to mesh really well," Windt says.
The artists spent six months developing projects for Higher Proof. "The exhibition is the culmination of everything: a public presentation of what we've worked on and talked about," Windt says. And though the artists are creating very different types of artwork, there's a spirit of unity. Says Angyal, "It'll be a diverse and exciting exhibition. Everyone's thinking big."Higher Proof Opening reception 7-10 p.m. Fri., March 9. At 1 p.m. Sat., March 10, the artists will discuss their work. Brew House Space 101, 2100 Mary St., South Side. Free. 412-381-7767 or www.higherproof.com