No matter where life takes you, your childhood home lives forever in your memories.
Artist and educator Kay Healy lives and works in Philadelphia, but her muse is her childhood home on Staten Island, N.Y. She fondly remembers her mother, an art teacher in elementary school, helping her paint a cloudy sky on her bedroom ceiling.
In her exhibit at Pittsburgh Center for the Arts in Shadyside, Ms. Healy's installation, "Coming Home," re-creates the memory of home with screen-printed fabric on a flat gallery wall -- floor to ceiling. The decor is nostalgic and recognizable. It feels as if you could be visiting a relative's old house in Pittsburgh, down to the bathroom tile.
Ms. Healy's parents sold their house just as she finished her bachelor's degree in art history from Oberlin College in Ohio. She later earned an master of fine arts degree in book arts and printmaking from the University of the Arts in Philadelphia. That's when she began to create art reflecting on the idea of transience. One way was by taking pictures of discarded sofas and tables left on the curb.
She has continued to explore these themes and what she calls "a search for stability in an ever-changing world." Besides screen-printing on fabric, Ms. Healy works in ceramics, photography, woodblock printing, books, installation and Web-based art.
For "Coming Home" she interviewed older residents in the Philadelphia area who could easily recollect the details -- everything from curtain patterns to carpet burns. Ms. Healy then combined their memories with hers. She drew the furniture, the refrigerator, the lamps, the wallpaper, etc.
Although made of fabric, she does not consider these quilts. They are drawings that are then screen-printed on cloth. From there she decided to sew pieces together into a blanket-like mural. But first she had to teach herself how to sew.
"I don't have any idea how to quilt," Ms. Healy acknowledges.
"Coming Home," on view through Aug. 18, is part of an ongoing exhibit exchange with the Center for Emerging Visual Artists in Philadelphia. Since 2008 Pittsburgh Filmmakers/Pittsburgh Center of the Arts has exchanged exhibits with CFEVA to foster an artistic dialogue between the two cities. Selected work by Pittsburgh artists have traveled to Philadelphia since then, and work by the Career Development Fellows at CFEVA -- such as Ms. Healy -- travels to Pittsburgh.