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Carol Brown Awards elevate local artists, celebrate creativity

PITTSBURGH, Nov. 16, 2018 – A master set designer and an interdisciplinary teaching artist, both based in Pittsburgh, are the winners of this year’s Carol R. Brown Creative Achievement Awards, which will be celebrated at a December 10 free public event at the City Theatre. The awards recognize the works and achievements of one established artist and one emerging artist and come with a $15,000 award for each, thanks to a shared commitment to the arts by The Pittsburgh Foundation and The Heinz Endowments. 

The established artist award honoree is set designer Tony Ferrieri, whose career spans 40 years and 550 theatrical productions. The emerging artist awardee is interdisciplinary artist Alisha B. Wormsley, whose work, including the “There Are Black People In The Future” billboard project, is inspired by the collective memory of African American culture. 

“To be recognized for all of my years of work in Pittsburgh as a designer means so much,” said Ferrieri on receiving the established artist award. “I’m a very detail-oriented set designer and for me, the most rewarding aspect of set design is getting to opening night and seeing your vision, your temporary sculpture, realized. When the actors say ‘thank you’ for creating an environment that’s perfect, that really feels like home to them, then that’s great.”

On winning the emerging artist award, Wormsley said, “It’s an honor to be chosen by my peers for this award. It reaffirms that I’m doing the work I’m meant to be doing and gives me time and breathing space to figure what I want to do next. Being intentional allows new opportunities to begin to manifest.”

This year’s award object is designed by Pittsburgh-based visual artist Sarika Goulatia, who was last year’s emerging artist Carol R. Brown Creative Achievement Award winner.  

Nominees for The Carol R. Brown Creative Achievement Award are recommended to Foundation and Endowments staff by a confidential, rotating pool of nominators who are selected for their knowledge of the field and experience viewing work by a wide range of artists. The nominees are invited to complete an application, and the eventual winners are selected by an anonymous interdisciplinary panel of distinguished artists with significant experience at the national and/or international level in their respective fields. 

About Tony Ferrieri: Ferrieri is a master of creating highly detailed and immersive worlds that envelope the performers and the audience. His work begins with close reading of every play, combined with his observation of the world. His process includes careful consideration of the perspectives of everyone involved in a production, from the playwright to the sound designers. Audiences are captivated by the sculptural quality of his set designs, which are inspired by Ferrieri’s knowledge of history and art. City Theatre, where he serves as both the director of production and resident set designer, has been his artistic home since 1979. Ferrieri’s original designs have graced many stages, including City Theatre, The Cherry Lane Theatre in New York City, Pittsburgh Civic Light Opera Cabaret, and Lincoln Park Performing Arts Center in Midland, Pennsylvania, as well as site-specific locations such as old warehouses and outdoor gardens for Quantum Theatre. He has worked closely with director Reginald L. Douglas, performer and playwright Sharon Washington and director Justin Fortunato in the creation of environments that range from realistic to abstract. A native Pittsburgher, Ferrieri has lived in the South Hills for 62 years. He and his wife, Annette, have three children, 13 grandchildren, and 26 great-grandchildren.

About Alisha B. Wormsley: For more than 20 years, Wormsley has created video, sculpture, photography and audio works. She is a teaching artist who has worked in communities around the world, helping to develop artistic ideas and celebrate identities, and has organized several public art initiatives through various national and international residencies. Blending past, present and future, her most recent works bring attention to the timelessness of the African American experience. She is the creator of the ongoing “There Are Black People In The Future” project, which sparked controversy this year when the text was displayed in East Liberty as part of “The Last Billboard” project. Her latest projects are “Children of NAN,” a film and video archive that serves as a metaphorical survival guide for Black women in America, and “The Space I Am In,” a multimedia collection exploring the mysticism and healing of Black women. Wormsley is originally from the Pittsburgh area and studied photography and digital media, anthropology and film. She earned her MFA in film and video this summer from the Milton Avery Graduate School of the Arts at Bard College, and is an adjunct professor at Carnegie Mellon University.

History of the Carol R. Brown Creative Achievement Awards: The program was conceived in 1991 as the Creative Achievement Awards by Carol R. Brown, who was president of the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust from 1986 to 2001. Brown oversaw the transformation of a 14-square-block area of downtown Pittsburgh from a red-light district to a nationally recognized model for arts-based community redevelopment. The awards went on hiatus from 2002 to 2011. In 2012, as part of their Investing in Professional Artists: The Pittsburgh Region Artists Program, which supports working artists and their creative processes from concept to completion, The Pittsburgh Foundation and The Heinz Endowments resurrected the awards and renamed them the Carol R. Brown Creative Achievement Awards. The program is one of very few in the region that provide direct philanthropic support to individuals. 

Recipients of the Carol R. Brown Creative Achievement Awards are:

Emerging Artist: Alisha B. Wormsley (interdisciplinary)    
Established Artist: Tony Ferrieri (set design)

Emerging Artist: Sarika Goulatia (multidisciplinary)         
Established Artist: Susan Tsu (costume design)

Emerging Artist: Tereneh Mosley (fashion design)        
Established Artist: Yona Harvey (literature)

Emerging Artst: Brett Kashmere (multidisciplinary)        
Established Artist: Karla Boos (theater)

Emerging Artist: Lenka Clayton (multidisciplinary)         
Established Artist: Jon Rubin (multidisciplinary)

Emerging Artist: Tami Dixon (theater)                 
Established Artist: Roger Humphries (music) 

Emerging Artist: John Peña (visual arts)             
Established Artist: Toi Derricotte (literature) 

About the Ceremony: The awards ceremony will take place Monday, Dec. 10, at 7 p.m. at the City Theatre, 1300 Bingham Street in Pittsburgh’s South Side. Doors open at 5:30 p.m. for a reception that is free and open to the public. Registration is required

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