“justART: art in the face of injustice” at Just Harvest

“Where The Heart Is”, Julie Lee

Just Harvest was established in 1986 to promote an equitable system of food access, working to advocate, organize, educate, and connect while addressing the systemic inequity that is the root cause of scarcity in a nation of abundance.  In the decades since their inception,  they’ve achieved tremendous success in providing assistance to combat pretty much every aspect of food insecurity and the poverty that creates it. 

In 2023, they’re seeking to build on this well-constructed foundation by exploring how their work can intersect with that of other organizations and individuals. This weekend, they explore the ability of art to elicit social change with the exhibition “justART: art in the face of injustice”.

Untitled work, Michael Maskarinec

“We’ve been looking at new and different ways to reach people,” says Director of Engagement Heather Seiders, “exploring how to connect hunger injustice with other issues, and art is such a powerful means of communication.”  While this is a fundraising event, any capital received from sales will be divided between the artist and organization. “It was important to us that the efforts and energy put into creation don’t go unrewarded,” Seiders says. 

The exhibition represents around 20 artists who submitted works for inclusion with anywhere from one to several pieces each, and is curated by board member Stephanie Tsong.  While well-known throughout the Pittsburgh community for their work as a DJ, Tsong’s academic background focused on visual art. “It’s what I studied and gave a lot of attention to,” they say. “While it evolved into music, I still wanted to be involved in art.” 

“Flipping the Switch” by Max Gems Gonzalez

What they’ve gathered includes photography and installation work, by artists ranging from recent graduates taking the first steps on their creative paths to longtime practitioners deep into their journeys, manifesting the theme however it resonates for them as individuals.  

“It doesn’t necessarily represent their specific experience with inequity; we wanted to have people share stories that were personal to them,” says Tsong. “We want to showcase things that are uplifting as well as those that are more somber. We want to show all of it.”

“Precarious Place” by Audra Lynn Clayton

On a personal level Tsong is drawn to works that deal with immigrant culture. “This is a type of inequity that I’ve seen a lot of growing up, and I feel like sometimes that gets forgotten about or overlooked in the greater picture when it’s such a big part of the narrative.”

As a recent addition to the board of an organization that they describe as “really important to know about”, this is their first event with the organization, and they’re excited to see where things go next.  “I love that we’re bringing new ideas and outlooks, keeping the same elements and energy that the organization is known for but with a fresh take.”

Untitled work by Michael Maskarinec

justART is held at The Highline’s West Lobby at 317 East Carson Street. A ticketed opening reception runs from – 10 pm on Friday, November 3rd, and includes art talks, artist meet and greet, DJ sets from Pittsburgh Open Decks, and refreshment from Tina’s. Open gallery viewing is offered on Saturday, November 4th from noon to 3 pm.