Rivers of Steel Arts is excited to launch the 2020 Mon Valley Featured Artist Series! Showcasing some of the exciting creative professionals working across the Mon Valley Creative Corridor, this weekly blog highlights multiple artists each month, from a variety of boroughs, to provide a snapshot of the region’s growing cultural vitality.
About Gwen Sadler
We kick this series off with an artist whose work is intimately connected to Rivers of Steel Arts, Gwen Sadler. An alumna of Alloy Pittsburgh and a regular contributor to Rivers of Steel’s Metal Arts program, Gwen’s creative drive and dedication to her craft shines a bright light on the community of Munhall, Pennsylvania. You can check out her artwork in the School House Studios on Ravine Street, or watch her cast molten iron with Rivers of Steel during the Festival of Combustion and other events throughout the Mon Valley Creative Corridor.
A Message from Gwen
Hello Mon valley, and beyond! I’m Gwen Sadler, some will know me as Sedlar (the og spelling of the family). For the last few years, post BFA, I have primarily been making cast metal sculpture that deals with the post-industrial landscape and the body. At the heart of my practice lies a scavenger impulse, interest in the cycles of materials through social meaning, and a love for molten metal. When I poured iron for the first time at the Carrie Furnaces little did I know how profoundly it would impact my life and artistic pursuits. I fell in love with the casting process, the region’s industrial history, the transmutation of objects and ideas through changing states of matter, and fire.
Metal work is laborious, dangerous, hard, hot work, that is not for the timid of heart. The community that flocks to the flame are some of the most loving and talented people I have known in life. Finding the friends and mentors that challenge and inspire you to keep creating is part of the artistic path. The alchemical process is both material and spiritual. I have been a part of the Rivers of Steel Metal Arts program since its infancy, about 6 years now—casting sculpture, performing, building tools of the trade, traveling the region, teaching, and learning while sharing this amazing process with people from all walks of life. It has also shown me the dedication it takes to grow a program of this scale. There is always something in the way; creativity and the ability to adapt is key.
Currently I maintain live-in studio space at the Munhall schoolhouse with three other artists. The building is over a century old and has been a place of education, worship, business, and community for the constantly evolving neighborhood. It’s a really special place to be; it’s so important that artists are able to keep access to affordable and inspiring studios as Pittsburgh continues to evolve. We have hosted exhibitions for local artists, had open studios, and are hoping to increase our community engagement, while paying some respect to the legacy of the building. And, it’s right across the river from the Carrie Furnaces, my studio away from studio… So, it’s a pretty great set up, I am very fortunate.
Hope you all are making do with hermetic life, in these upsetting and uncertain times. Uncertainty is part of any creative process; I find again and again being able to work through it is as important as the outcome. For me creating, however I can, is a means of survival…
Facebook @ Gwen Sedlar