Created out of the need to create space for creativity to thrive beyond the invisible walls of the arts and creative world, 38a is our support platform for the Arts. With the explicit intent of creating and designing for all TWG banners and experiences with a single cohesive voice to serve where Black, Brown and minority artists and creators are most often overlooked, 38a’s current space includes the Art Gallery in Pittsburgh’s East Liberty.

Located at 5929 Penn Ave in the heart of Pittsburgh’s historic East Liberty neighborhood, 38a Art Gallery was created to serve the city’s vibrant artist community with a space open to emerging and established Black, Brown and minority creator-led exhibits, programs, events and workshops. With an emphasis on arts education, exposure and discovery, the 38a Art Gallery is our commitment to offer equitable and accessible space in the ever-growing global arts scene, bridging the gap in opportunity and access.

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Can you tell us about the inspiration behind your artwork?

I am mostly inspired by daily Black experiences, Black beauty, and my own personal experiences. I’m also generally inspired by a myriad of things that exist in the world, such as a really unique top I’ve come across, a conversation with my sister, music videos, other artists, etc.

What is your creative process like when creating a piece?

My creative process when it comes to making a piece really depends on what it is. Sometimes my process is based on the person I’m shooting with, sometimes it’s the concept, sometimes it’s a specific item of clothing or a location, and then sometimes I just shoot on the whim with someone and raid their closet. I like to take my time with my creative process though.  It also depends on the project. Sometimes it’s based on person I’m shooting with or item of clothing i want to style and finding someone who fits or just needing to shoot or having a story and just thinking about it a lot until a vision comes up sometimes it takes awhile like for my short film the ball didn’t start rolling until i was shopping for another photoshoot and came across the wired skirt and that was all i needed to complete it

How long does it typically take you to complete a work of art?

It depends but I like to take my time with my art, I work on it when I please and I share it when it feels right. But as the person who is doing the styling, creative direction, and hair on top of the photography, I take my time with it, but once I know what I want to do the turnaround time from that to the actual photoshoot doesn’t take long. It can take anywhere from a week to a year for me to release a project. But for something like my film “Don’t We Look Pretty?” the concept for it began in 2019 and I didn’t release it until 2022.

What kind of materials do you prefer to work with, and why?

I work with whatever I can use. Photography has mostly been a digital medium for me. I like playing with fabrics on the body, as part of the set, or in different ways. Throughout my undergrad I was actually part of the SPIRIT Fashion Show where I designed and sewed my own lines, and a couple of those were collaborations, as well.

Are there any specific themes or messages you try to convey through your art?

Mmm I would say my work is mostly centered around Blackness, womanhood, and challenging societal norms.

How has your art evolved over time, and what influences have contributed to that evolution?

When I started photography for me I just wanted to showcase the beauty I see in the people around me, friends, family, strangers. That’s still the case but I’m interested in doing more intentional storytelling. I’ve realized that a lot of the stories I’m interested in exploring are centered around womanhood and sexism and well Blackness, of course. Influences that have contributed to that evolution I would say is mainly exposure to different types of artists and seeing the ways in which they continue to push boundaries.

What kind of response have you received from viewers of your art?

The response I have received has always been positive which I’m grateful for. For others to be able to see how I feel in my work is an honor. When it came to my “Don’t We Look Pretty?” I was unsure of how people would react to it because of the eeriness present in it, which is the opposite of most of the work I’ve created so far.

How do you hope viewers will react to your work?

I hope people will have an appreciation for all types of beauty and I hope it’ll be a catalyst for how they view and move in the world. I hope they feel. That’s all I can really hope for at the end of the day.

Are there any upcoming projects or exhibitions you’re currently working on?

Yes! I’m currently working on a documentary film and photography project titled “No Age to Beauty,” a project that seeks to unravel the intersection between age, beauty, culture and legacy through the lens of Black women with gray hair. We are working on raising funds to complete the story at a high quality level. Follow us on instagram @noagetobeautyfilm for more updates.

What initially drew you to art, and how did you begin your career as an artist?

I’ve always been creative since I was young. My dream was to become a fashion designer and that started when I was eight years old. My passion for fashion has taken me down an interesting path in that I never thought I would be a photographer. So it’s cool to see how it’s developed and blossomed and brought me to other creative endeavors. I can’t really say I began a career as an artist because it was really just for fun and now I’m here and we’ll see where it takes me.

Have you studied art formally, or are you self-taught? How has your education or lack thereof impacted your work?

I did not study art formally, I actually went to college for engineering and managed to finally take an art class in my last semester. But art also took form in other ways for me during my time there, mainly through technology and robotics. My lack of education has allowed me to create without any rules in mind, I learned by just shooting. In the same way I think it might’ve also limited me because I know my world needs expanding, but that’s what I’m taking the time to do now.

Who are some of your artistic influences, and how have they inspired you?

I’ll just say that some of my favorite photographers include Nadine Ijewere, Ashley Pena, Gabriel Moses, Renell Medrano, Camila Falquez, Daniel Obasi, and Rafael Pavarotti. There are others but these are the ones I can think of at this time.

Are there any particular artists or artworks that you consider to be major milestones or turning points in your artistic journey?

My artworks that I would consider turning points in my artistic journey are “Man in Blue,” “A Daughter’s Inheritance,” “August&Petals,” and “Don’t We Look Pretty?”

How do you balance creative expression with commercial viability? Do you create art solely for yourself, or with an audience in mind?

I don’t consider commercial viability when I create. I solely create for myself and hope that it’ll receive positive engagement. This is the case unless I’m working on a project with an intentional message, then I consider how the audience will receive and understand it to ensure that what I want to say is getting across.

Are there any challenges or obstacles you’ve faced in your career as an artist? How have you overcome them?

Since I’m not on this journey with an end goal, it’s hard for me to say. But it can feel hard at times to feel like I’m actually being heard. It’s also been hard to find a mentor in this city or even someone creating in a close enough world that I want to learn from or with when it comes to where I want to go with my work. Being an artist in Pittsburgh is hard in general I will say.

How do you see your art fitting into the larger art world and art history?

Ooh interesting question. Hm, I hope it’s brought up when it comes to breaking down societal norms because certain things that society at large has just accepted that are problematic. That would be amazing though to have such a legacy that leaves that type of impact on the world.

Do you have any advice for aspiring artists who are just starting out?

Just do it. But for real though just start no matter how bad you might be or if you “fail” because one day after all of that time and energy and work you put in you’ll be where you wanted to be. And make the most out of the resources you have at hand. Don’t be afraid to invest in yourself and take that leap. Money will be spent, might as well put that towards your craft and see where it takes you. And lastly, don’t let perfectionism control you.

How do you stay motivated and inspired in your work?

The ideas I want to bring to life are what motivate and inspire me. Creating is my light, it’s what helps me to feel and be grounded.

What are your future goals as an artist?

I hope to break down all of my walls and to create as freely as possible. I want to grow and be better. That’s really it. Not gonna limit myself in any way and I’m just grateful to be on this crazy creative ride and wherever that takes me and those I meet along the way. I’m excited to see how it all goes. East Liberty, Pittsburgh is an up-and-coming neighborhood with a thriving arts scene. There are several galleries and artist studios in the area that showcase a diverse range of art styles and mediums. Overall, the arts scene in East Liberty, Pittsburgh is vibrant and constantly evolving, with new artists and galleries emerging regularly. The neighborhood’s commitment to supporting local artists and promoting community engagement through the arts is a testament to its growing reputation as a cultural hub in the city.

Evangeline, can you speak further about this, 38a, East Liberty, and the future of art in PGH and how 38a can support it? 

I’m excited for the arts scene in PGH, there’s a lot of great talent and people are doing amazing things here. What’s great about 38a is that it’s highlighting and providing an opportunity to local and emerging artists, such as myself, to showcase their work. It’s important to be out in the scene with the artists, engaging with them and their work and building relationships, just really being intentional about that. Providing them with resources, opportunities, and connections throughout the city, especially ones that are paid, and not just that but outside of Pittsburgh, as well.

Past Exhibits

X and O's Exhibit

X’s and O’s is an exhibition that examined our relationship to the game of basketball. Through photography, video, and mixed media sculpture, artists survey their personal connections to the sport to tell a story about its cultural significance and the ways it shapes lives. Featured artists include Trent Bozeman, Tay Butler, Terrance Favers, Don Prophete, Michael Thompson, and SHAN Wallace.

"Does it Rain Diamonds on Neptune?" by Steve Alexis

“I’m not trying to create pictures or just paint patterns. I want to provoke feelings of dissociation. To question your perspective and yourself. The instance when you aren’t the main character. All of the excitement and terror of those moments is what abstraction has done for me. The objects I make are vehicles for myself and the viewer to exist in those disparate states of being.”

Does it Rain Diamonds on Neptune? is a solo exhibition by Steve Alexis that aims to challenge perceptions around what abstract work can function as. Through this selection of works, Alexis encourages the audience to look past the superficial, and consider a space that exists in-between painting and sculpture without attempting to resolve or make sense of what’s being viewed. Combining pattern making with a layering of elements, the work is characterized by its subjective notions of painting in its basic form, with each stroke functioning as a reaction to a previous action. This process, combined with how the work is hung, relates to movement and bodies, but rather than depict them in an overt way, Alexis focuses instead on the idea of the body, and asks that viewers consider each mark made as a result of his body interacting with the works as they are created, rather than form. The essence of the maker is found in the work. The maker’s emotions are tied to the work by proxy, and it’s the process that creates the form. This is further reinforced by his usage of material, in particular Mica powder, which has the qualities of metal without being metal, and in more static pieces presents the idea of sculpture in its purest form: a representative of something abstract.