American Eagle Public Art Commission
Tree Artists: Kathleen Mulcahy and Ron Desmett
PITTSBURGH — “Tree” a 40' high “I” beam construction was installed in late October 2007 in preparation for Pittsburgh 250th birthday celebration. The site was completed in 2008 with the finishing of the first of several buildings under construction by American Eagle at the Southside Works of Pittsburgh.
This artwork was inspired by the long history of Pittsburgh’s steel industry and the fact that the new American Eagle Headquarters is built on the former site of the Jones and Laughlin Steel Plant. “I” Beams were used, reminiscent of the steel industry with construction of the tree taking place in Boswell, PA at Somerset Steel Erection. This tree was designed using a CAD program that allowed the artists to “build” the model on computer, shaping, sizing, moving, bending and shifting every branch and limb into place. The model was sent directly to the plant’s computer cutting machines to cut specific sizes that were fit together by advanced steel workers and welders. The installation took place in late October 07 following that the site then could be prepared for lighting and finishing. The work is now complete. There is a second smaller 20' high tree between buildings on the same street constructed with the same shape in mind but altered for scale and balance.
Mulcahy and Desmett were thrilled for the chance to work on this scale and for such a great company. American Eagle wanted a strong image that reflected their image and gave the artists free reign to tackle the creation and building of the tree. The artists were excited about working with such talented computer specialists, steel workers, and welders all working tirelessly for many months. The tree can be seen as you approach the Southside Works from the Hot Metal Bridge.
Mulcahy works as an independent artist with her husband and partner, Desmett. Their work has won numerous awards, both together and individually; the Renwick Galleries at the Smithsonian Institution of Washington, DC acquired their collaborative work “Crossings 1982” this year. The Renwick recently purchased a Lidded Trunk Vessel from Desmett for their permanent collection as well as the Carnegie Museums of Pittsburgh. Kathleen has received numerous honors including an NEA and the Creative Acheivment Award from the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust. Mulcahy and Desmett played a key role in founding the Pittsburgh Glass Center, a public access art center for the encouragement of innovative use of glass in art and design. They reside in Oakdale, Pennsylvania where they have studios for glass and sculpture.