1_arne_svensen_about_face_2011Feb. 5 – May 13, 2012: About Face

A new exhibition will feature a series of portraits done by Arne Svenson. Svenson is a New York-based photographer working in collaboration with The Warhol for this exhibition. The portraits were taken at Pittsburgh’s Wesley Spectrum Highland, an Approve Private School for students with special needs in grades 4 – 12.

The exhibition features three-dimensional, large-format photographs that are fixed to the gallery walls and fixed open at a 55-degree angle. From one perspective, the viewer sees a neutral portrait of a student. From the other angle, the viewer sees an expressive portrait accompanied by an emotional motivator. The emotional motivators range from birthday cakes to spiders and were used to evoke a facial expression.

Svenson, who has a background in special education, worked as the artist-in-residency at this school in February 2011 as part of an ongoing partnership with Svenson, The Warhol, the Cognitive Psychology Department at the University of Victoria, British Colombia and Wesley Spectrum Highland. The goal of the partnership is to work with autistic children in order to improve communication skills by activities that involve Warhol’s portraits and the practice of contemporary portrait artists such as Svenson to teach facial recognition skills. The exhibition was curated by Tresa Varner, curator of education and interpretation at The Warhol.

-Sarah Reagle