About Us

Arts Excursions Unlimited (AEU) was the result of a year long residency at the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh - Hazelwood under the Office of Public Art’s Artist in the Public Realm Residency program. Artist Edith Abeyta worked with Hazelwood residents to develop a creative project based on a year's worth of one on one conversations, group discussions, art activities, and numerous meetings. After 12 moon cycles an arts excursion program was born.

AEU provides free monthly arts and cultural visits to various locations throughout the Pittsburgh region. We focus on family outings so our participants range in age from 2-82. Our aim is to foster communal arts experiences as well as personal growth and greater connections to the neighborhood, city, state, country, and world. We believe direct interactions with the arts makes for a better understanding of the self and the spaces we inhabit.

This program is generously supported by the collaboration of the artist, Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh - Hazelwood and Office of Public Art staff, Hazelwood residents, and funding by The Heinz Endowments.

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Edith Abeyta, Artist

Edith Abeyta is a visual artist living in North Braddock, Pennsylvania. She combines post-consumer goods, particularly clothing, and participatory gestures to form temporary installations and sculptures that explore collectivity, labor, and exchange. She frequently collaborates with other visual artists, poets, scholars, and the public.

Abeyta is currently in her second year as artist in residence at the Carnegie Library Pittsburgh – Hazelwood as part of the Office of Public Art’s Artist in the Public Realm program. Other residencies include the University of Utrecht, The Netherlands, the University of Burapha, Thailand, Pilgrim School, Los Angeles, and Windward School, Los Angeles. She was awarded a fellowship from the Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research in 2007. She has received public art commissions from the Arts Council for Long Beach and the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust. Her work has been exhibited at the Lakenhal Museum Lieden, the Netherlands, Burapha University Gallery, Thailand, Long Beach Museum of Art, and the Craft and Folk Art Museum, Los Angeles.

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Dasawn Gray, Artist Assistant

Dasawn Gray is a sophomore at City High honing his entrepreneurial skills so he can open up his own BBQ food truck. He participates in the Hazelwood Youth Media Justice program documenting various social justice events in the Pittsburgh. His passion for cooking and photography makes him an invaluable member of the AEU team.

WORKSHOP ARTISTS

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Michelle Sophia Sabol aka Memphis George, Workshop Artist (November 2016 — January 2017)

Michelle Sophia Sabol worked in avant-garde film as an intern at Electronic Arts Intermix in New York in the late 1980s and as Technical Director and Program Coordinator at the San Francisco Cinematheque in the early 1990s. She attended the San Francisco State University Film Core program before working in commercial film production in Los Angeles. There she assisted director and cinematographer Caleb Deschanel in the start up of his company Dark Light Pictures; on various commercial productions; and as a designer for the Emmy award winning floral design company Flower Art that works exclusively with set decorators for film and television production. 

As a primarily self-taught jewelry artist, Ms. Sabol began working under the name Memphis George and Memphis George Jewelry was born in Los Angeles, CA in 1998. It remains a distinctly unique couture brand in the handmade studio artist movement.

Memphis George Jewelry has been worn to the Oscars by award nominees and in films by stars such as Selena Gomez and Jane Lynch, among others. It is in the private collections of the former editor of W magazine, the arts and entertainment editor of the Los Angeles Times, and other prominent art-to-wear collectors.

Luxury gemstones are framed by flourishes of hand crafted silver, gold, and ancient bronze. Eclectic elements such as plexiglas, oak roots, and decadent, genuine Swarovski crystal mingle with elaborate hand-painted surfaces. The resulting whirlwind of whimsical elegance defines the Memphis George oeuvre.

Memphis George Fine Art-to-Wear Jewelry and Gallery was an experimental pop-up gallery in the Atwater Village neighborhood of Los Angeles from 2011 to 2014The gallery curated the work of a dozen rotating fine artists and craftspeople in addition to the jewelry of Memphis George and also served as a functioning artist studio, and teaching and performance space for musicians and poets.

Currently based in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Memphis George is a member of the Associated Artist of Pittsburgh, the Craftsmen’s Guild, and is represented by Gallery Chiz in the Shadyside neighborhood of the city.

As a Teaching Artist, Ms. George is able to offer her vast technical knowledge, unique techniques, and experience in experimental and commercial aesthetics to a new generation of creative thinkers and makers.

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Martha Rial, Workshop Artist (August — October 2016)

Martha Rial first fell in love with photography as a teenager studying images in Life and Look magazines. Her desire to tell compelling stories has taken her from the mountains of Haiti to African villages to the streets of her hometown of Pittsburgh. Rial’s photographs have received international acclaim, including a Pulitzer Prize for work documenting the lives of Burundian and Rwandan survivors of the 1994 genocide.

She previously worked as a staff photographer for the St. Petersburg Times (now the Tampa Bay Times) and the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Her work has earned the Scripps Howard Foundation Award for Photojournalism, a National Headliner Award, and the Distinguished Visual Award from the Pennsylvania Associated Press Managing Editors. She has also been named Pennsylvania News Photographer of the Year.

Recent projects include the Marcellus Shale Documentary Project, a traveling exhibition of photographs chronicling the impact of the shale gas drilling in Pennsylvania. She was also selected as one of the photographers for the Downtown Now Photography Project, a special initiative of The Heinz Endowments.

Rial’s photographs have been exhibited at the Carnegie Museum of Art, the Mattress Factory, Silver Eye Center for Photography, and the Hewlett Gallery at Carnegie Mellon University. Her work is included in the permanent collections of the Carnegie Museum of Art, BNY Mellon, and the Newseum in Washington D.C.

Rial is a graduate of Ohio University’s School of Visual Communications. She resides in Pittsburgh, PA.