By Sydni Canney
Founded in 1970, the Mattress Factory is an acclaimed exhibitory art museum in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania that supports the work of local, national, and international artists through a working-residency program. Beginning on June seventeenth, the Mattress Factory partnered with Sibyls Shrine and began exhibiting a six-site installation named SHRINE. The idea behind this exhibit was to elevate and appreciate the Black community, including mothers, creatives, artists, and activists. Additionally, SHRINE also recognizes holy spaces—hence, its designated name—that depicts liberation.
Upon visiting the exhibit, it was clear that this was an extraordinarily special showcase, conjoining artists to create an immersive and powerful experience. SHRINE features work from Naomi Chambers, Renée Cox, Mary Martin, LaKeisha Wolf, Alisha B. Wormsley, sarah huny young, Camille Posey, and janera solomon. Although each individual installation provided an indescribable experience, I would like to touch on a few of the artists’ works that most impacted me.
Situated snugly at the corners of Monterey Street and Jacksonia Street, is where the Monterey Annex building housing the SHRINE exhibit is located. On entering the building you are greeted with a breathtaking archway of flowers that fills the entirety of the entryway into the museum. The work of sarah huny young, titled “7,” leads you up the stairs to the first few exhibits. Mary Martin’s “A Constant Struggle for Reciprocity” is the first installation that you come into contact with, and immediately your gaze is met with bright turquoise walls and various ceremonial vases that adorn the middle and outskirts of the room. Representing reciprocity, the act of exchanging things for mutual benefit, the clay, metal, glass, and wood vesicles depict the struggles that are innate in the Black experience as told by Martin.
Up another set of stairs, going through a rather dim stairwell, you are completely surrounded by the calming sounds of water rushing around you. However, there is no water in sight. This passing exhibit is a truly enamoring experience. At the top of the stairs, a bright white room is adorned with a matching altar and a visually stunning adornment of stones and objects arranged in a bed of soil on the floor to create a gorgeous, ceremonial design. This installment, “How Deep Is Your Love,” was created by LaKeisha Wolf, using an array of materials including natural elements, such as crystals, feathers, and stones. Wolf explained that her exhibit was created to display the interconnectivity between the Earth and the environment and its synchronicity with motherhood, growth, and learning. The room was drowning in light seeping in from three tall windows that stood opposite the door, truly embodying the artists’ essence of nature and being one with the environment and the human experience.
Another room over, a completely different experience was provided by Renée Cox, “Soul Culture.” This installment was quite unlike any other, utilizing the combination of video and the lack of light to create an immersive experience for visitors. Cox described this joint participation that the visitors can experience as one that provides joy, peace, and reflection. There is undoubtedly a feeling of calmness and serenity that deluge any fortunate viewer of this installation. The SHRINE exhibit is unarguably one that will leave a lasting impression and is worth taking a visit while it runs through December thirtieth.
“A Constant Struggle for Reciprocity” Sydni Canney.
[MLA: [Canney, Sydni]. “[SHRINE Exhibition Overview].” ReligYinz: Mapping Religious Pittsburgh, University of Pittsburgh, [(17) (June) (2022)], https://mattress.org/shrine-exhibition-overview/
How to Cite
MLA: Canney, Sydni. “The SHRINE Exhibit: Mattress Factory.” Religyinz: Mapping Religious Pittsburgh, University of Pittsburgh, 23 Sept. 2022, https://religyinz.pitt.edu/the-shrine-exhibit-mattress-factory/
APA: Canney, S. 2022, September 23. The SHRINE Exhibit: Mattress Factory. Religyinz: Mapping Religious Pittsburgh, University of Pittsburgh. https://religyinz.pitt.edu/the-shrine-exhibit-mattress-factory/
Chicago: Canney, Syndi. “The SHRINE Exhibit: Mattress Factory” Religyinz: Mapping Religious Pittsburgh. University of Pittsburgh, September 23, 2022. https://religyinz.pitt.edu/the-shrine-exhibit-mattress-factory/