Bridging the Gap: Carlow writers featured in artistic display of public art in Greensburg art

PITTSBURGH — For the next four years, motorists traveling the North Main Street Bridge in downtown Greensburg will be treated to a special project combining public art and the written word.

Sarah Williams-Devereux, Fred Shaw, and Joy Katz – who all have connections to Carlow’s MFA program, the Madwomen in the Attic writers, or both – are three of the four writers selected to have their work displayed for one year each by the Westmoreland Museum of American Art for its Bridging the Gap public art project. The other writer selected, Karen Dietrich, is a local author of the psychological thriller “Girl on the Edge.”

According to a news release from the museum, the artist, Janet Zweig, has created a work titled “Analog Scroll,” which utilizes three-dimensional letters held by tracks fastened to the concrete walls of the bridge to reveal text through a manual scrolling process. Each writer is to create original text that relates to the bridge itself or the concept of bridging a gap between downtown Greensburg, the museum and the surrounding neighborhoods.

“I am extremely excited and proud to have been selected for this project,” said Williams-Devereux, who is an administrative assistant for the Madwomen in the Attic program and adjunct instructor for the Madwomen in the Attic program, as well as a poet. “I already have ideas for the poem that will be displayed on the bridge.”

Shaw is an MFA alumnus and an adjunct instructor in English, and Katz is an adjunct instructor in the Madwomen in the Attic writing workshop. The bridge already features another Carlow connection. Currently, Madwomen adjunct instructor and former MFA program staff Michelle Stoner’s poem “Mile Marker 322” appears on Zweig’s “Analog Scroll.” Madwomen director Jan Beatty was the inaugural poet for Bridging the Gap with her poem “Main Street Bridge, Greensburg.”

“Our entire department is elated to see Sarah, Fred and Joy awarded this prestigious honor,” said Louis Boyle, PhD, chair of the Department of Art, Communication, and English. “The selection of their work, along with Jan’s and Michelle’s in previous years, is a testament to their outstanding literary talent, a talent that deserves to be shared with the world through this medium. The Carlow University Creative Writing Programs, in recent years under the stewardship of Jan Beatty, has a distinguished heritage of good writing and strong voices combined with an unwavering commitment to our community, and the amazing work of these poets exemplifies that tradition. Congratulations, Sarah, Fred and Joy!”

The schedule for when the four writers’ texts will appear is as follows:

  • Fred Shaw, February 2021-February 2022
  • Sarah Williams-Devereux, February 2022-February 2023
  • Joy Katz, February 2023-February 2024
  • Karen Dietrich, February 2024-February 2025

Chief Curator Barbara Jones said, “We were very pleased with the response to our call for the next installments on the North Main Street Bridge. It was difficult to select just four writers. However, their proposals were compelling, and we feel that they will each deliver a unique experience to the public with their writing. I look forward to reading and seeing their contribution to”Analog Scroll” over the next four years.”

Editor’s note: Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, there has been a delay in the schedule for installing new stanzas, which is a manual process overseen by Curatorial Assistant Bonnie West and completed by her with help from a small group of dedicated volunteers. Stoner’s poem is expected to conclude in January 2021.

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