Mattress Factory names Pittsburgh native its new executive director
David Oresick has ties to Silver Eye Center for Photography and Carnegie Mellon University.
By Lucia Shen
Photo: Mattress Factory
David Oresick, a native Pittsburgher with ties to Silver Eye Center for Photography and Carnegie Mellon University (CMU), has been named the Mattress Factory Museum’s newest executive director. The museum announced the news in April, and Oresick started his role on May 16, 2022. Former Executive Director Hayley Haldeman stepped down at this time.
Haldeman became the museum’s executive director in April of last year, but before that, she served as the museum’s interim director, starting in February 2019. She led the museum through a turbulent couple of years after criticism was brought up around how museum leadership handled sexual harrasment and sexual assault allegations brought forward by staff; she also worked through the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic. In 2020, the museum closed its doors to the public for nearly six months, and instead allowed artists to present their studios to its members through Zoom studio visits.
In December 2021, Haldeman announced her plans to step down as executive director, and five months later, the Board of Directors announced Oresick as the one who would take her place.
Currently the executive director and chief curator of Silver Eye Center for Photography, Oresick has also worked to create programs that make the art world more equitable and sustainable for new artists. He co-founded the Visual Arts Coalition for Equity, or VACE, which consists of seven local organizations that collectively work to bring resources and opportunity to emerging artists. It started in 2020 as a response to how the pandemic exacerbated inequity within the arts. The VACE collective continues to address challenges that emerging artists face through the VACE Fellowship, a “paid training program that assists aspiring arts leaders in creating equitable and sustainable practices within their communities,” according to the VACE website.
“We are extremely proud of and excited for David’s hire,” Mattress Factory Board Chair Sherry DuCarme said in a press release. “Following a months-long and incredibly competitive search process, David exemplified everything we sought to lead the Museum in its next chapter: a talented and experienced arts leader and visionary, with a strong national and local reputation and demonstrated excellence with supporting artists and organizational growth.”
In addition to his work for VACE and Silver Eye, Oresick is also an adjunct professor at CMU in the department of history, where he teaches courses on the history of photography. He also co-founded the screening series “Video Playlist” at the Museum of Contemporary Photography in Chicago. According to the artist description of the project, he used online videos to “explore the ways in which people use technology for self-expression and communication, even–or perhaps especially–in extremely emotional circumstances, including death and war.”
“I am incredibly honored to be chosen to lead this amazing organization,” Oresick said in a press release. “As a native Pittsburgher, the Mattress Factory is a place that has always meant so much to me and was a huge part of forming my love for boundary pushing contemporary art from an early age. In my career, my passion has always been working to help artists create new artwork and sharing that artwork in meaningful and engaging ways. I can’t think of a better place to continue this work than the Mattress Factory.”
The Mattress Factory opened a new exhibition in April 2022 called “Pop-Aganda: Revolution & Iconography,” featuring eight artists who explore media disinformation through their work. Mattress Factory’s Regional Open Call for artists closed on May 20, 2022. The open call is a selection process for artists in residence at the museum to create site-specific works that will be open to the public for four to six months, and the chosen artists will be announced to applicants on June 3.