Chatham to honor four Northside arts leaders at 2011 commencement

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Sampsonia Way is no longer just another Northside street, but a center for art and literature, thanks to the Mattress Factory and City of Asylum/Pittsburgh.

The rest of the city is noticing, and Chatham University has invited MF Co-founders Barbara Luderowski and Michael Olijnyk and COA Co-founders Henry Reese and Diane Samuels to speak at its 2011 commencement ceremony on May 22.

The quartet will also receive honorary doctorates of letters from Chatham.

“The Mattress Factory and City of Asylum/Pittsburgh have helped to transform the rich artistic and literary landscapes of Pittsburgh, as well as the physical neighborhood of the Northside,” said Chatham spokesperson Paul Kovach in an e-mail statement.

Reese, who along with Samuels has received an honorary degree from Seton Hill University as well, said that Chatham’s recognition of the program is more meaningful than any personal recognition.

“[COA has] caught the imagination of people from many walks of life,” he said. “It’s meaningful to us to know we are connected to it, but really, it’s not about us.”

Luderowski and Olijnyk agreed with Reese’s sentiments and commented that Sampsonia Way has become a destination.

“I see it as a real, very nice approval or recognition of what we have done for the alley, which is why we’re here,” Luderowski said. “It’s for whatever everyone here has done, and it’s not just me, I can assure you of that.”

The MF co-founders have received honorary degrees from Carnegie Mellon University and Seton Hill University, and Luderowski last month received an award from Art Table in New York City for her contributions to the art community.

Kovach said in an e-mail that commencement speakers should inspire students, and that these four arts leaders were chosen for that reason.

“They are trailblazers who have brought international recognition to Pittsburgh and have helped Pittsburghers to better understand the global arts community.  Chatham is truly proud to honor them and their accomplishments,” he said.

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