|Owner||City of Pittsburgh|
|ADA Services||The sculpture is located near a parking lot, off of the Three Rivers Heritage Trail. It is surrounded by grass.|
The sculpture was originally commissioned in 1997 by the City of Pittsburgh’s Department of City Planning. The Industrial Arts Co-op grew what started as a small project into a piece that now stands in a large and permanent way. The sculpture celebrates the Steel City’s heritage in a whimsical but poignant manner.
The artwork is made out of steel, ladle, and Bessemer converter repurposed from the surrounding industrial landscape. The humanoid figures are made of structural I Beams that were once used in construction of the Hot Metal Bridge.
This project commemorates the rich industrial steel heritage of the Pittsburgh region and honors the individuals who contributed to it, while at the same time, celebrates the present-day transformation of one of the country's rust belt and industrial cities into a contemporary, stimulating place for people to live, work, and perhaps most importantly, contribute.
Pittsburgh is an amalgamation of land and water and people. Art that attempts to mirror this city’s spirit, if it hopes to succeed, must acknowledge and reflect the collaboration between landscape and memory. The city forged by these men and women is not a finished product. The Workers celebrates Pittsburgh's ever-forward motion, driven by an abiding respect for the past.
The sculpture’s medium is leftover scrap metal from vanished Pittsburgh steel mills; an iron hot-metal ladle donated by another mill; the ties from bridges that once carried steel’s raw materials across the city’s rivers. The materials and methods employed to create "The Workers" are a testament to the unions that have set Pittsburgh in motion – unions between men and women, workers and capital; between the land the piece guards and the rivers that it watches; unions of past, present, and future.
The Workers creators, the 21 artists of Pittsburgh’s Industrial Arts Co-op, operate in much the same way their millworker forebears did. For a decade, they labored individually and as a team in a former mill site. For a decade, they collaborated with industrial, foundation, and political entities necessary to make this massive sculpture a reality. And for a decade, they committed themselves wholly to an endeavor they may have never seen finalized – just like the workers and entities that made Pittsburgh.
The Workers is not a nostalgic monument; the piece creates, in its material and conceptual bricolage, a sculptural break from the past. These strong, vigilant watchmen act as reminders that this city’s legacy is a commitment to collaboration, whether that is millworkers or teachers, boilermakers or nurses, engineers or technologists. "The Workers" is a Pittsburgh forever in progress, built on the hallowed ground of industry, but forged in the crucible of its peoples’ minds – people fueled by history, and looking toward a future brighter still.
Born in Mercer County, Tim trained at the Art Institute of Pittsburgh. Operating outside the conventions of commercial art, Kaulen’s materials reflect the nature of his work – his often repurposed materials are scraps and snapshots of former signage and construction materials formerly scattered within the community. These materials are then repurposed, reimagined, and replaced back into the civic landscape in a different context. This spirit of community is not exclusive to the physical manifestation of his work. Founding the Industrial Arts Co-op as a collaborative way to create art, Kaulen’s creative process is deep seated and on a sense of social community and partnership.
City of Pittsburgh, Department of City Planning
PJ Dick Corporation
Casey Equipment Company
The Heinz Endowments
The Sprout Fund
Pittsburgh 250, Community Connections
The Pittsburgh Foundation
The Fine Foundation
Rivers of Steel
Tube City, IMS
Walter Long Manufacturing
Esab Welding Equipment
The Brew House Association
Hydrel / An Acuity Brands Company
The Office of Public Art
Greater Pittsburgh Arts Council
Ferry Electric Company
Century Steel Erectors
Iron Workers Local Union No. 3
Frank Bryan Incorporated
Simpson Reinforcing Inc