City of Asylum Pittsburgh, a nonprofit organization providing sanctuary to exiled or politically oppressed writers, is running a River of Words through the Mexican War Streets and beyond as part of a series of temporary public-art installations. A community open house for the project will be held
"We're developing a literary trail," says
River of Words is a project by writer
To illustrate the use of words as a metaphor for neural synapsis and the connection between human beings and places, Centeno selected words from several prominent Venezuelan poems. City of Asylum reached out to people who live near their
"We've interacted a lot with the community," says Centeno. "They've been willing to participate with the work, which is the meaning of the project -- connecting with the people of the neighborhood."
The artists then created the words from vinyl, metal or acrylic and situated them on the home wherever the owner suggested. Once the project is complete, a map will be available for those seeking to take self-guided tours.
As the artists worked, more people expressed interest in hosting a word.
"People chose each word for a reason," says Romero. "It's been very interesting to know why."
The word "vortex" written in vinyl runs across one window. A regal cursive "hamlet" adorns a nearby home, while a gold metal "God" conveys its message from another. One home has two words: a vertical version of "shipwreck" cascading down above the word "liberated."
"They made a poem with two words," says Centeno.
While choosing words, Centeno says, he tried to keep
The latter is displayed on a fence outside the home of
"There were a lot of beautiful words to chose from, but we saw 'zombie' and just laughed," says Tharp. "We're big fans of 'The Walking Dead,' so it's just perfect."
Tharp is excited for the completion of the project, which will include chalk artwork on the road behind her home on
"We're so perfectly positioned between two amazing arts venues -- the
The installation is part of being City of Asylum's newest project, the Garden-to-Garden Artway. The homes bearing words are primarily situated between a community garden currently under construction on
The installation is intended to be temporary, though Samuels says it's up to the homeowners how long they want the words displayed.
"If they want to keep the words, they are most welcome," Samuels says. "It will be interesting to see the life of the words if people decide to keep them."
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