Rivers of Steel/ Cities of Iron: Chicago Art Department and Present Tense: Excavating Braddock
from the Excavating History project, Present Tense, Braddock, PA
EXCAVATING HISTORY is an umbrella term for exhibitions, publications, installations, and other actions in which EH artists work with public histories using research to generate and develop site-specific and site-responsive artworks, and to posit alternative futures. Braddock Pennsylvania is a distressed steel town outside Pittsburgh. It has a proud history and many assets, but it is facing severe challenges. The first Carnegie Library to open in the U.S. is there, as well as sites associated with steel¬making, mining and banking, labor organizing, education and river travel and commerce.
Despite the differences in scale, Chicago has much in common with Braddock: an industrial, immigrant, manufacturing past; a common interest in creative economies, urban farming and other manifestations of resourceful approaches to reinventing cities, while simultaneously struggling with gentrification, violence and educational, class and racial divides. Excavating History conducted a series of installations, workshops and participatory artworks with events and exhibitions taking place in both Chicago and Braddock.
The project in Braddock was anchored in UnSmoke, an established artists’ space and gallery, and there were projects at other sites throughout the town.
In Chicago, the exhibition is hosted by Chicago Art Department.