'Working Class Images' Tells Valley Stories Through Four Artists' Work

By Submitted Report | Posted in: Announcements

Above: "A Letter to SASKIA" by Robert Qualters is one of the works on display in "Working Class Images" at the Bost Building through Dec. 16. Courtesy Rivers of Steel Historic Area.


Works by four local artists are featured in a new exhibition that examines life and culture in the Mon Valley.

"Working Class Images" debuted at 1 p.m. Saturday at the Bost Building, 623 E. 8th Ave., Homestead, a spokesperson said.

The exhibit --- inside a gallery at the Rivers of Steel Historic Area Visitors Center, near the Waterfront and the former site of U.S. Steel's Homestead Works --- spans four decades and includes paintings, mixed-media installations and photography.

The artists whose works are on display include McKeesport and Clairton native Robert Qualters; Carnegie Mellon University professor Charlee Brodsky; West Homestead-based muralist Jennifer Rempel; and poet and painter Peter Oresick, who died in 2016 from brain cancer.

"The exhibit addresses the struggle of workers to attain economic wellbeing and rights within the workplace, as well as expressions of their inner lives,” said Joel Sabadasz, Battle of Homestead Foundation board member and coordinator for this project. “Themes of work, community, struggle, dignity, faith, democracy, patriotism, play, friendship and love are timeless reflections of the region’s working-class life and culture.”

Exhibit hours are 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday through Dec. 16, except for Thanksgiving weekend, when the Bost Building will be closed. A $3 donation is requested for admission and includes access to other exhibits as well as the gallery.


In addition, the artists will discuss their work at 12 p.m. Saturdays at the Bost Building:

  • Nov. 4, Charlee Brodsky
  • Nov. 11, Jennifer Rempel
  • Dec. 2, Stephanie Flom, widow of Peter Oresick; and
  • Dec. 9, Robert Qualters

“Rivers of Steel is excited for the opportunity to mount this exhibition featuring four of the regions most
talented, and preeminent artists,” said Ron Baraff, exhibition curator and Director of Historic Resources and Facilities for Rivers of Steel. “Their works are honest and thought-provoking, capturing the essence of our
collective industrial, and postindustrial narratives.”

“The stories that wind their way through the work are at the core of Rivers of Steel’s mission --- to embrace
our past, share our collective culture, and build up on this foundation for the present and the future," Baraff said. "We can all find a piece of ourselves and our communities within these magnificent works."


Above: Screen by Jennifer Rempel illustrating the 1892 Homestead steel strike. Courtesy Rivers of Steel Historic Area.


"Working Class Images" is presented by Rivers of Steel, in partnership with the Battle of Homestead Foundation, which is commemorating the 125th Anniversary of the 1892 Homestead Strike and Lockout. Additional support for this exhibition was provided to the Battle of Homestead Foundation by the United Steelworkers, the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, and The Waterfront.

Originally published October 30, 2017.

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