Greater Allegheny Professor Lori Hepner creates color Beechview project

Beechview Healthy Active Living Center

Beechview Healthy Active Living Center displays artwork on its fence from the Color Beechview Project.

Credit: Lori Hepner

MCKEESPORT, Pa. — Penn State Greater Allegheny Professor Lori Hepner recently worked on the Color Beechview Project, a collaboration between the Public Art and Civic Design Division of the City of Pittsburgh, Citiparks, Age-Friendly Pittsburgh, and Lively Pittsburgh. 

Hepner joined the project as the lead artist for a grant from AARP, so that people from the Beechview neighborhood could make intergenerational art together. She said the project aims to help the community of Beechview come together and to add buoyancy to the neighborhood through public art.

The outdoor, digitally printed murals feature silhouette portraits of Beechview residents who participated in the artmaking sessions, and are installed directly on the façade and sidewalk areas of the Beechview Healthy Active Living Center.

Hepner’s experience with community-centered visual arts projects using collaborative light painting was one of the many reasons why she was recruited as an artist for this collaboration.

“It is interesting to see how everyday people create and experience art," said Hepner. "This project lets us do this collaborative art-making process within the community itself; it isn’t limited to a museum or gallery space and is close to where people are living.

"It was really great because a lot of different people came together who would not usually interact with each other, such as young children, middle school kids, college level students, adults, and senior citizens," she added.

Hepner creates art through a medium that blends light painting with movement and dance, to drawing with light, which becomes a projected video behind her as she moves.

“I have been doing work with LEDs since 2009, where I was initially using actual film-based photography,” stated Hepner. “I knew I wanted to turn these homemade LED devices into something that could show photographs, but I had to wait for the technology to catch up to my ideas.”

PennDOT's T-Car features a 9-by-20-foot mural created by Color Beechview, allowing the mural to "explore" the city. The Color Beechview Project will leave a lasting impression on its community and visualizations of residents’ portraits to greater Pittsburgh area through the T-Car mural installation.