Metal sculpture at community center fits Braddock community

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Allison Gozion grew up in the Pittsburgh area, where both her father and grandfather were steelworkers. And when she came to Braddock for the first time a few years ago, she "fell in love with the community."

Ms. Gozion, 21, was a student majoring in fine arts at Carnegie Mellon University when she first walked into the Nyia Page Community Center -- then a work in progress -- and told Mayor John Fetterman she wanted to create a sculpture for the center.

"It would've been remarkable if she just designed this thing," Mr. Fetterman said of the elegant, curvy, aluminum sculpture with LED lights that's suspended from the ceiling of the former church -- the perfect chandelier for a steel town.

But she also raised $35,000 to fund the construction of the 350-pound sculpture, which was installed by Ms. Gozion, her father and electricians in the church-turned-community hub July 13.

Ms. Gozion said her art is influenced by things in her environment and she wanted to make sure the sculpture reflected Braddock's storied history as well as the current revitalization.

"I didn't want to make a piece that focused just on the older side because the community is going through a transition," she said.

She toured the Carrie Furnace site and modeled part of the sculpture after a blast furnace. She also sought input from steelworkers, who had no objections to the design.

"They thought it was pretty cool," she said.

Ms. Gozion, who graduated from CMU in the spring and now lives in Jefferson Hills with her parents, said her art is influenced by the fact that she has relatives who were steelworkers.

"I think it's only natural that I got into metals," she said.

Her dad worked at a casting facility at the Edgar Thomson Works in Braddock and her grandfather was an airplane mechanic in World War II.

She said things like gears and fan belts were just a part of growing up.

"That's what I was around when I was little," she said.

Most of Ms. Gozion's work is "kinetic metal sculpture" -- moving artwork. The Braddock piece, she said, is actually the first sculpture she's created that doesn't move.

Ms. Gozion is petite and a bit shy, but once she starts talking about her art, the shyness goes away as ideas fire around in her brain. Mr. Fetterman called her "a real force of nature."

One of the more than 20 moving pieces she's made was a sculpture that funneled water through iron, she said, but it didn't take long for the iron to oxidize and the water to turn rusty.

"I usually make these hideously obnoxious sculptures that make a ton of noise," she said.

But the Braddock sculpture, which hangs from the ceiling in the community center, is stationary and tranquil. Mr. Fetterman first saw it during an installation at CMU in May.

"I wish I had my reaction on film when I walked in," he said. "I was blown away."


Annie Siebert: or 412-263-1613. Twitter: @AnnieSiebert.


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