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School & Community Programs

School and Community Programs at Pittsburgh Center for the Arts"We do not know who we are until we know what we can do. That should be the job of education. "

- Sir Kenneth Robinson: author,
Out of Our Minds: Learning to be Creative

The School & Community Arts program at Pittsburgh Center for the Arts is dedicated to bringing artist residencies to schools, nonprofit service agencies, and community organizations working with both children and adults in Allegheny, Beaver, Southwest Butler, Greene, and Washington counties. Artist residencies are designed to place trained, knowledgeable, and practicing artists into school and community settings where they can share the benefits of the creative process. This Program is in partnership with the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts.

We currently have 49 resident artists in our program, including media artists, dancers, folk artists, musicians, visual artists and writers. This year we accepted Jamie Boyd, Randy Collins, Michael Johnsen, Christopher Kardambikis, Tavia LaFollette, Laura Jean McLaughlin, Davil Pohl, Quantum Theatre, and Thomas Sarver.


Mary Brenholts
Director of School & Community Programs
412-361-0455 x368

2010 Artist residency directory

As we are currently updating content in our Community Programs section, please click to download this PDF of our Resident Artists (3.3 MB).

In the News

South Fayete & Neighbors Magazine Highlights the PCA's School and Community Artist in Residence Program. Read more here.

Artist Residencies in Action

Roosevelt Circus

Roosevelt Circus

20 hard-working and dedicated 5th Grade students at Pittsburgh Roosevelt Intermediate practiced, laughed, and persevered over the course of five months with Resident Artist Ben Sota of Zany Umbrella Circus along with Visiting Artists Laura Jean McLaughlin, Jeff Berman, and Jeff Gordon to learn circus arts such as juggling, balancing, sword fighting, levitation, scene writing, prop/set/costume design, and many other performance skills.

Zany Umbrella Circus exists to build and strengthen communities through education and folk artistry-- particularly puppetry, circus, music, storytelling, street theatre and visual arts. Bringing together large, diverse audiences, they strive to reintegrate art into daily life through shows that tickle the imagination and teach important life lessons. Zany Umbrella Circus uses art as a vehicle to further social change, promote dialogue, teach cooperation skills and encourage children of all backgrounds to use their imaginations and create artwork of their own.

Focus, rigor, patience, collaboration, cooperation, humor, creativity, problem-solving, communication, self-expression, and confidence are all attributes gained or strengthened by these students during this unique artist residency project supported by the administrators, teachers, support staff, and parents at Pittsburgh Roosevelt.

This artist residency project was made possible through a grant from The Heinz Endowments' "Generation ART," matched with funding by Pittsburgh Public Schools' ELECT Student Works and the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts' Arts in Education Partnership administered regionally by Pittsburgh Filmmakers/Pittsburgh Center for the Arts. The Pennsylvania Council on the Arts is a state agency funded by the citizens of Pennsylvania through the annual legislative appropriation process and supported by the National Endowment for the Arts.

Roosevelt Circus




Over the past year, PF/PCA administered eight Artist Residency Projects in collaboration with the James Gallery to bring student-generated artwork to the new Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh. Over 250 children, ages 8-18, worked with eight dedicated and talented Resident Artists in school and community settings to create beautiful pieces of art designed to lift the spirits of children in treatment and to provide attractive visual diversions for those around them.
     One such residency project took place at South Fayette Elementary School where 3rd grade students worked with ceramicist Laura Jean McLaughlin to create a colorful 8' X 10" mosaic mural. The students learned to cut, break, lay, and grout tiles and mirrors to depict the fantastical emergence of a tadpole becoming a frog (science curriculum studies!) kissing a princess with the image of a prince floating in her imagination. Students drew the images comprising the mural while they learned about drawing to scale. Ms. McLaughlin then combined the drawings together in a large coloring book type sketch for the students to fill in with pieces and schards of mirror and tile.



For three consecutive years, resident artist Sandra Gould Ford has led an ongoing residency of Creative Writing Workshops to the men and women incarcerated in the Allegheny County Jail. She has taught memoir, fiction, poetry, personal essay, and basic story construction. As her class studies various types of research, along with both creative and editorial writing, they participate in an ever increasing knowledge of how our complex English language functions. She is currently working to publish a second book of student works entitled Diamonds in the Rough.



This February, dancer Patty Maloney, puppet-maker Cheryl Capezzuti, and musician Jeff Berman returned to Chartiers Valley Primary School for a third consecutive year to lead an exciting collaborative residency project. Their different disciplines partnered beautifully to develop a performance with 3 kindergarten classes. As Jeff Berman provided percussion, Patty Maloney led the children through the narration of a story. Cheryl instructed the students in the creation of bead-filled puppets, which were not only visually beautiful props for the play, but also functioned as musical instruments. Incorporating story into the arts by the use of rhythm, movement, and rhyming, the artists were able to promote memory and sequence of material. Pre- and post-testing indicates that the students' comprehension is far greater after the residency projects, making it clear that a focus on the arts fosters academic success.


This January and February resident artist Stephanie Flom led a 13-day residency mural project at West View Elementary School, in the North Hills School District, working with art teacher Sara Strzempek and seventy-five fifth grade students. The residency goal was to facilitate the creation of a permanent public mural inspired by the work of Matisse. The energetic, motivated students did extensive research and captured various subjects, emotional expressions, and action illustrations through the use of cut-outs from contour line drawings.


In February 2008, resident artists Ashley Williams and Devin Fay of Attack Theatre led a 5-day residency project in Moon Area School district, working with the physical education instructor, Marc Kopay, and his 6th-8th grade students. The residency goal was to introduce the art form of break dancing. This creative and fun dance instruction offered Moon Area students a unique alternative to physical activity.


Resident artist Mary Miller of the Mary Miller Dance Company has led an ongoing monthly residency project with the hearing impaired students of Peebles Elementary in the North Allegheny School District. While each year brings newcomers, she has developed relationships with many of her continuing students. Her classes involves 10-12 students from the ages of Kindergarten through sixth grade. With a drummer to accompany her, Mary is able to help the students understand rhythm and how it corresponds to dancing. This creative and expressive movement class is a push for physical activity and is designed to encourage imagination.


In January 2008, resident artist Tina Brewer worked with art teacher Deb Lieberman and her fifth grade students in a 10-13 day residency project, at Pittsburgh Linden K-8. Their goal was to create a story quilt using handmade rubber stamps, fabric, and Adinkra symbolism with an emphasis on color and texture to depict themselves and their expectations for the future. In February, Resident Artist Chris Kardambikis will be spending three additional days working with Ms. Lieberman and her students teaching them how to make hand bound journals that contain their stories and sketches from the quilt project.