The Drift is a platform for creative projects that explore the rivers within the city of Pittsburgh, PA. We are an artist-run collective which serves as a think tank for collaborative projects and an organization to aid other artists in creating work on and along the rivers.
Since April 2012
What was your motivation?
Pittsburgh is a city surrounded by three rivers. While many people use them for recreation and commercial transportation, we wanted to propose that the rivers could be just as much a cultural resource as one that is ecological, and logistical. Several of us had a long standing interest in water and boating, and we were all interested in establishing a new venue to exhibit art and other creative endeavors. The first kernels of the project developed out of a class titled Contextual Practice, taught by Jon Rubin at Carnegie Mellon.
Six: Steve Gurysh, Luke Loeffler, Scott Andrew, Craig Fahner, Erin Womack, Felipe Castleblanco. We are all currently MFA students at Carnegie Mellon University.
The Drift is supported in part by a Seed Award from The Sprout Fund, a grant from the Awesome Foundation, as well as support from Carnegie Mellon University.
Our group regularly meets to discuss new opportunities and ideas. Several projects have been organized by the Drift team. Each member took on a project idea for our first season. We have also held open calls for video submissions and have accepted proposals from artists outside of the core team. We will be managing these projects as part of our 2013 series, the first of which is a project by local artist Jennifer Myers.
This year we have 8 scheduled events that range from day-long to week-long.
We have produced projects ranging from floating concerts, video screenings, and poetry readings to architectural experiences and social interventions: projects like Iceburgh, a large glowing iceberg that bobbed outside PNC Park, Drift by Drag, a floating drag show that interrupted a Kenny Chesney concert on the water, and more recently, Azimuth, a floating sky observatory. The final project of the season is Sycamore Colony, an immersive installation on a 13-acre uninhabited island.
In our first year, we developed projects out of collaborations from members within the group. We have since launched programs which invite local and regional artists to participate. As The Drift develops we hope to transition to a point where our roles are more curatorial.
Do you accept proposals/submissions?
Yes. We schedule calls for submissions in the Summer and Winter. We also recently began a screening series with an open call for video works to be projected onto sites along the river. We are always looking to support projects that explore the context of the rivers in creative ways. Send your proposals to firstname.lastname@example.org.
We are interested in facilitating projects which explore the rivers and their cultural and ecological role within the city. We are focusing on two audiences, one that already engages with the river and is perhaps unsuspecting of an encounter with art, and another that is less familiar with the river and may be drawn to it through via an art experience.
One of the most difficult problems has been getting the word out to a significantly broader public, however the audiences we have reached thus far have been very enthusiastic and are growing fast. Another issue at hand is navigating the river as a dually public and private entity. There are so many groups that regulate, maintain, and occupy different aspects of the rivers, from municipal institutions, to non-profits, businesses, and ad hoc networks of river punks and Steeler fans. It’s been an interesting experience learning who exactly to seek for advice, permission, and forgiveness.
We hope to foster connections between the arts community and the community that uses the rivers. There are some really incredible organizations in Pittsburgh, both institutionally and at a grassroots level which engage these two territories, but seldom do they ever meet.
Aside from the Sycamore Island project we are looking forward to work with Jen Myers in the Spring, our first selection from our call for proposals.
James McAnally is the executive editor and co-founder of Temporary Art Review. A graduate of Washington University, James McAnally is a founder, Co-Director, and Curator of The Luminary Center for the Arts, a nonprofit artist resourcing organization based in St. Louis. In his personal practice, he works as part of the artistic collaborative US English.