Category Archives: Behind the Scenes

Cover Story: The Making of Duane Michals’s Monograph


We recently published a major retrospective catalogue on the work of the photographer Duane Michals, called Storyteller: The Photographs of Duane Michals. This is what the cover looks like:

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But it could have looked very different; in fact, it did:

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By my count, our indefatigable designer Brett Yasko produced at least 75 variant covers over the course of the design process. This is a bit extreme, but it is not as unusual as you might think. A cover is a tricky thing. It needs to be compelling and representative. It has to look good on a shelf and as a tiny thumbnail online. It is also a physical object—will it get dirty, show scuffs or fingerprints, tear easily?

And Michals’s work in particular presents unique challenges. The photographs for which he is best known require close, sustained looking: his small, multi-image sequences unfold over time and space, and his images incorporating handwritten text are complex. His work is the antithesis of “the decisive moment” that would naturally make for an arresting standalone image. So, after talking with me and exhibition curator Linda Benedict-Jones, Brett started with the sequences, and the concept of Michals as a storyteller…

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New Hire: Emily Davis


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Emily Davis, taking a spin in the backyard with her pet chicken, in Alameda, New Mexico, circa 1985.

What is your official title, and what are some of your general responsibilities?

My official title is Senior Research Associate for the Time-Based Media Collection. I am working on an exciting multi-faceted project funded by the A.W. Mellon Foundation. One of my main responsibilities is to ensure the long-term sustainability and accessibility of the museum’s time-based media collection, which includes film, video, audio, and software-based artworks. To do this I am assessing the preservation needs of the holdings, determining what works need and can be migrated to digital formats, working with the artists, galleries, and estates to migrate the work according to best practices, and updating the collection records to document the preservation work. I will also be working with the new archival assistant to arrange and describe the related archival materials in  order to gather more information about the collection and make it accessible to staff and researchers. Continue reading

New Hire: Tom Fisher


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What is your official title, and what are some of your general responsibilities?

Multimedia Producer. I plan, shoot, and edit videos that can be found in and around CMOA’s exhibitions and on the museum’s Vimeo channel. These videos include event documentation and original works like the Hillman Photography Initiative’s Invisible Photograph series. I also work closely with my supervisor Jeff Inscho to help organize and archive the museum’s digital assets.

What were you doing before joining us at CMOA?

In May I graduated from the Filmmaking Intensive at Pittsburgh Filmmakers. I’ve since been freelancing and was fortunate enough to intern with CMOA’s Multimedia Department. I’ve also spent the last two years working in a photo lab. Yes, people still shoot on film. Yes, people take ‘selfies’ with disposable cameras. Continue reading

New Hire: Kevin Mercer


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What is your official title, and what are some of your general responsibilities?

Construction and Facilities Coordinator. I provide support for the administration and execution of all aspects of construction-related activities associated with the museum’s temporary exhibitions, major permanent collection installations, and special projects.

What were you doing before joining us at CMOA?

I had just finished my graduate degree in drawing and painting at Penn State, where I taught 2-D and 3-D design courses. I was also a wood and metal shop technician at PSU’s School of the Visual Arts. Continue reading

New Hire: Tracey Berg-Fulton


new-hire_tracey-berg-fulton_cmoa-blog_450pWhat is your official title, and what are some of your general responsibilities?

My official title is Collections Database Associate. I am working on a new project called Art Tracks that will hopefully provide our provenance data as linked open data. At this point in the project, my responsibilities are mainly cleaning up database records, creating new records where needed, checking facts, and working with our project developer to figure out how to get the best data out of our collections database. My role is pretty exciting, in that I get to be kind of a bridge between the curatorial department, the registrar’s department, and the technology department. I have a background in registration, but I have a totally not secret love of technology and the net, so this is a great fit for me, and I feel like I’ve learned a ton!

What were you doing before joining us at CMOA?

Immediately before coming to CMOA, I was the database administrator at a tech startup called Shoefitr here in Pittsburgh. Before Shoefitr, I was the Registrar at the August Wilson Center for African American Culture. Prior to that, I was a contract registrar, working with private clients, small galleries, and corporate clients to do, well, basically anything that needed to be done. Art shipping, painting, installing, condition reporting, toilet repair (yes, really), I could do it. If we want to take a trip in the Way Back Machine, I got my museum start at CMOA. I was here as a volunteer in the Decorative Arts department in 2008 after I moved back to the US from Scotland, and then worked in the Technology department as an imaging technician before I headed out to Oklahoma to start my registrarial career. Continue reading