Artwork inspired by the Steel Industry

The Westmoreland Museum in Pennsylvania has a great collection of industrial and steel-inspired painting, photography and drawings. I had the chance to visit their exhibition, Born of Fire, The Valley of Work, this summer. It was fascinating to see so many artists’ different visual representations of steel-making and its effects on Pittsburgh.  Since the beginnings of industry in the Monongahela Valley, artists have found inspiration in the urban/mill landscape. Their work captures both the visceral reality of industry as well as the constant presence of industry’s environmental, labor, and class pressures in a city like Pittsburgh. After hours pouring through old maps, documents, and photographs in the local historical archives, it was refreshing and enlightening to see an artist’s approach to capturing steel-making. There is an important tradition here that is sometimes overlooked in historical preservation–the role of art, of culture, of emotion. In the search for preserving memories and not just memorials, I think the raw emotive power of art may hold a certain key.

click here to see more of the artwork

Learn more about the history

Check out the Rivers of Steel Heritage Area’s website to learn more about the history ofHomestead and the steel industry in the Monongahela Valley. Rivers of Steel has helped protect and celebrate historic sights in and around Homestead, and helps organize related book signings, film screenings, and other community events. They are currently located in the historic Bost building on 8th Avenue and are in the process of redeveloping the Carrie Furnaces as a cultural and learning center.

Click here to visit their website

My Previous Work

Visit my vimeo page to see other work I’ve done.

Maura Johnson on Vimeo


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