Haydon Alexander is wearing a green smock and the clear front of his welding mask is pushed up so he can talk to me.
“We’re making something that’s certainly more than the sum of its parts,” he says.
The 17-year-old high school student isn’t kidding. We’re standing in front of a sculpture that rises about 18 feet high and is mostly composed of “cobra heads”—the trade name for the arched street lights you see in almost any American neighborhood.
The lamps, along with some other decommissioned fixtures, were donated by Duquesne Light Company for this piece. It’s part of Pittsburgh’s Re:NEW Festival, a month-long celebration of art and performance focused on reuse and sustainability.
This downtown sculpture is somewhat dwarfed by the trees and high-rise office buildings in Gateway Center Plaza.
“The general feeling of Gateway Center is sort of all the buildings are very sterile,” Alexander says. “And this piece follows some of the geometry we see here, but it’s more natural and more flowing.”
It looks a little like a flower sprouting from the pavement. Alexander is talking to me during the short breaks he takes from putting the finishing touches on the piece. He’s moving up and down a red ladder, securing the lights with a stick welder.
Alexander’s been an apprentice with the Mobile Sculpture Workshop, a community outreach initiative of the Industrial Arts Co-Op (IAC.) They teach high school kids to weld and work with metal through working on a piece of public art over the summer. This Gateway Center piece is a special commission for the festival…
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