America's Least Livable City, and other works

Hyla Willis
2014 Artist of the Year

May 9-July 20, 2014
Pittsburgh Center for the Arts

Artist of the Year Hyla Willis, is recognized as a significant artist with a body of work which has had an impact both regionally and nationally. She is an interdisciplinary artist, graphic designer, and longtime member of subRosa, an art collective. She holds an MFA from Carnegie Mellon University, and a BFA from Cornish College of the Arts in Seattle, Washington.

For the Artist of the Year exhibit, Willis will present a multimedia installation with video, paintings and drawings called, “America's Least Livable City and other works.”  In 1985, Willis explains, when Rand McNally first singled out Pittsburgh as “America's Most Livable City,” her hometown of  Yuba City, California was ranked dead last. The townspeople were indignant but responded with humor and imagination, she says. This exhibit explores the struggles of everyday life and the community cohesion that still occurs when the outside world disregards you. Willis will also present archival material from her work with subRosa, and other new work.

Willis is a past president of the American Institute of Graphic Arts (AIGA) Pittsburgh, and currently teaches media arts at Robert Morris University. Prior to her appointment at RMU, she was a senior graphic designer for EDGE studio, an award-wining architecture and design firm. As a founding member of subRosa, she has performed, exhibited, and given workshops in Europe, Asia, Australia, and throughout North America. SubRosa combines art, social activism and politics to explore and critique the ways women are impacted by rapidly evolving biological and communications technology.  Willis is a recipient of two Pennsylvania Council on the Arts fellowships, as well as a Creative Capital grant.

The Artist of the Year award, originating in 1949, is one of the oldest and most celebrated tradition at Pittsburgh Center for the Arts. This annual award recognizes those making significant creative contributions to Southwestern Pennsylvania and beyond. After a successful retrospective of all previous honorees in 2001, an Emerging Artist of the Year award was also implemented honoring the work of an artist at an earlier stage in his or her career. The awards provide support to develop new work leading to major solo exhibitions at the Center, confirming the dynamic role of artists in the region’s past, present and future.

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