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 Katy DeMent, “The Paper Lady”
This is the second piece in a two-part profile highlighting Mon Valley artists Katy DeMent and Lindsey Scherloum, who often work closely with one another on community and educational projects. Their individual practices share common threads of inquiry that include concerns over local environmental health and sustainability, social justice, and a creative philosophy that governs both their professional and personal lives. In week two of this double feature, we turn our eye to Swissvale, Pennsylvania for a look at “The Paper Lady,” Katy DeMent.
A Message from Katy
About My Work
As a lifelong gardener and artist, bee follower, nontraditional educator & PA Certified Teaching Artist, I draw from my experiences to create educational workshops that are STEAM-centered, sustainability-focused, and hands-on.
My work harvests materials from the waste stream to demonstrate water systems and creatively illustrate environmental situations. Through well-crafted visual narratives my tactile process utilizes natural materials and recycled papers.
Recently my work took a slight detour after I discovered “Crankies” a manual, panoramic, scrolling story-telling device that also happens to be a convenient allegory for rivers. My project Climate Change Crankie, is a bridge to conversations about Pittsburgh’s Industrial history, its environmental legacy, and man’s role in its brighter future. Highlighting how individuals, through innovation, grass roots initiatives and community can create solutions that lead to actions revitalizing our neighborhoods, Climate Change Crankie illustrates Pittsburgh’s industrial history, environmental legacy, and a more mindful future—all taking place on one typical Pittsburgh lot.
My Home in the Mon Valley
Our home and my studio is located in Swissvale PA. We = my fella’—an engineering hydrologist—two cats and just recently my 87 year old mother too, all live in a 100+ year old former, grocery store, barbershop, print shop, dance studio, Underground night Club, ”the Abandon Store,” and pirate radio station!
We have a large organic garden and a few fruit trees in the back too.
I have been impressed with my own resilience during the pandemic. We have been quite comfortable here with a freezer full of food from last summer, plenty of room for everyone to quarantine, the always-interesting panoramic view “from Kennywood to Homestead Grays Bridge”, and a big yard ready for an early start on the garden with time to pull weeds!
I moved from Atlanta GA to Pittsburgh, a relatively new place, that has many stories to tell. The people here have a casual DYI spirit that I as a self-taught artist, can appreciate.
The creative, scientific and environmental communities all interact to bring about awareness of these regions environmental scars, then work together to make improvement.
I have found my “peeps’ in the Swissvale Edible Gardner Community; a small enthusiastic group with a keen interest in producing healthy foods in our backyards, front porches and empty lots, and who also care about soil health and education as related to growing foods and growing community. YES!
Find Me Online