From the Carrie Furnace: Art in Steel Valley
Following the collapse of the steel industry, the Carrie Furnaces in Rankin, PA has emerged as a site for artistic exploration and expression.
Video made by Peter Leeman.
The Carrie Furnaces in Rankin, PA once produced more than 1,000 tons of iron per day. Today, they are the only blast furnaces to remain standing after the decline of Pittsburgh’s steel industry.
Since the 1990s, artists have found inspiration in the monumental scale and post-industrial isolation of the Carrie Furnaces. From large-scale sculpture and interactive installations to live performance and native gardens, creative people are creating work motivated by a sense of commemoration, preservation, and transformation.
The Sprout Fund has supported projects that tell the story of the Carrie Furnaces, document their emergence as a place for artistic expression, and create new opportunities for the production of site-specific art.
Alloy Pittsburgh is a unique visual and performing arts project co-founded by Pittsburgh artists Sean Derry and Chris McGinnis. The project was developed in collaboration with the Rivers of Steel National Heritage Area and the Kipp Gallery at Indiana University of Pennsylvania. Alloy Pittsburgh offers 15 artists from the greater Pittsburgh region the opportunity to develop temporary site-based artworks for the Carrie Furnace National Historic Landmark.
The Carrie Deer Documentary explores the creation of the 40′ Deer sculpture at the historic Carrie Furnaces. In 1997, a group of young Pittsburgh artists completed a yearlong adventure of personal and artistic growth that forever changed their lives. Their now-famous sculpture visually embodies Pittsburgh’s abandoned industrial sites’ return to nature. As a collective artistic effort, it is remarkable for the use of on-site materials, exceptional as a work by volunteers, astounding as a work never expected to be publicly seen, and thought-provoking in its mill-like construction process.
The Iron Garden Walk, a project of the Rivers of Steel National Heritage Area in partnership with Penn State Master Gardeners, is a dynamic educational project made up of interpretive iron plaques that lead walkers through the Carrie Furnaces’ grounds, introducing topics of sustainability and living laboratories through a comprehensive plant survey. The Iron Garden Walk helps present the historical Carrie Furnaces as more than just a defunct industrial site, but rather as a living entity, changing with the seasons, where visitors can be engaged in both the site’s history and its ecology.
Rivers of Steel National Heritage Area operates tours of the Carrie Blast Furnaces May through October. Learn more about the Carrie Furnaces and the efforts of Rivers of Steel to preserve and celebrate the region’s industrial heritage.