North Braddock artist thinks sculpture will fit Three Rivers Arts Festival to a T

A Butler Auto Auction T-shirt worn bare and covered with paint splatters is among 3,000 unique T-shirts used in Edith Abeyta’s public art piece for the Three Rivers Arts Festival that begins Friday.

“Someone worked in that shirt,” Ms. Abeyta, of North Braddock, said.

The artist has been assembling her piece “O:ne:ká,” at Point State Park for most of the week. Just as much of the work featured at the festival addresses issues of sustainability such as waste, Ms. Abeyta’s piece represents the cycle of clothing in the United States.

Ms. Abeyta put up fliers for two months seeking T-shirt donations, and the nearly 3,000 she received have been attached to the wooden frameworks of the large sculpture that will be placed in the reflecting pool at the center of the park.

The frameworks spell the Seneca word for water, O:ne:ká.

Ms. Abeyta said she chose T-shirts as her medium because they were donated from members of the community and therefore reflect the location. Joe’s Crab Shack and the Pittsburgh Pirates are represented as well as an “I love naps” shirt. One of the artist’s favorite says “I skip school to go hunting,” which not only reflects location but also a personality.

But Ms. Abeyta also chose T-shirts because they are the most popular article of clothing. At the end of the 10-day festival, rather than throwing the garments out, she will give away all of the shirts.

Most of Ms. Abeyta’s art involves themes of labor and reused materials, according to her Pittsburgh Artist’s Registry biography.

“Interaction and participation are crucial to the success of each piece from the gathering of materials, fabrication of the piece, activation of the work by participants to the re-distribution of the materials at the end of the installation cycle,” the biography states.

Other public pieces at the festival include a series of sculptures representing New York City Buildings titled “No Limits,” by Alexandre Arrechea. Four of the sculptures are in Gateway Center and will be displayed until Sept. 6, according to the arts festival website.

The interactive project “Before I Die,” by Candy Chang that invites people to “think about their secrets, wishes and hopes and then share them” will be featured in Katz Plaza along Penn Avenue in the Cultural District.

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