Visual Arts: Identity Play, SPACE Gallery





PITTSBURGH – The Pittsburgh Cultural Trust announces the opening of Identity Play, a new exhibition at SPACE Gallery, 812 Liberty Avenue, Pittsburgh, PA 15222, June 22 through August 19. Curated by Kristen Letts Kovak, the exhibit features works by eight locally- and nationally-based artists. An opening reception will be held in conjunction with the summer Gallery Crawl on July 6 from 5:30-10:00pm, and a walkthrough with the curator will be held on August 4, 2018.

The exhibition brings together the works of Bibiana Suárez, Scott Andrew, Atom Atkinson, Patty Carroll, Zoë Charlton, Rick Delaney, John Peña, and Imin Yeh. These artists create games, play house, build models, and play dress-up, cleverly applying complex commentary to innocuous forms.  “Identity Play explores the role of whimsy in the earnest search for self,” explains Kovak. “The artists in this exhibition use the strategies of childhood to explore the complexities of adulthood. They discover, shift, reveal, and redefine the parameters of identity, addressing the liminal space between innermost worlds and external self.”

Kovak initially conceived of an exhibition about the aesthetics of childhood.  Yet, as the show developed, she noticed a pattern.  “Many of the artists were using playfulness as a strategy to discuss deeper issues of personal and social identity,” says Kovak. “While on the surface play may appear frivolous, these artists demonstrate that it is an essential part of our cognitive and social development.  By reframing the unprecedented as possible, we can imagine alternative circumstances without the pressures of reality.”

Walking into the gallery, viewers will encounter a pseudo-suburbia complete with re-imagined gnomes, and a white picket fence.  They will walk among a forest of thought bubbles and play a nearly 70-foot game of Memory.  The show also includes a miniature reconstruction of Pittsburgh’s Chinatown, staged mannequins recreating literary scenes, and a burlesque setting for a queered film noir.  “Identity Play is simultaneously light-hearted and weighty,” says Kovak.  “These artists are making bold statements wrapped in sparkling confection.”

About Kristen Letts Kovak
Kristen Letts Kovak is an artist, professor, and curator based in Pittsburgh, PA. She earned her undergraduate art degrees from Mercyhurst University before completing her MFA in Studio Art from Maryland Institute College of Art. Since 2012, Kovak has taught applied aesthetics, drawing, and painting at Carnegie Mellon University where she is also Senior Associate Dean for the College of Fine Arts.

Her works have been exhibited nationally, with her most recent solo exhibitions at 707 and 709 Penn Galleries, the Westmoreland Museum of American Art, St. Michael’s College, Ohio University, Penn State, Baum School of Art, and the Arts Club of Washington. Her paintings and drawings have been featured in group exhibitions at the Pittsburgh Center for the Arts, Williamsburg Art and Historical Center, SPACE, Wildling Art Museum, Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum, Indiana University-Purdue University Indiana, Muskegon Museum of Art, Museum of the Red River, and the Woodson Art Museum among others.

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SPACE is located at 812 Liberty Avenue. Gallery Hours: Wed & Thurs: 11 a.m.-6 p.m.; Fri & Sat: 11 a.m.-8 p.m.; Sun 11 a.m.-5 p.m. The gallery is free and open to the public. SPACE is a project of the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust. For more information please visit:

Pittsburgh Cultural Trust
The Pittsburgh Cultural Trust has overseen one of Pittsburgh’s most historic transformations: turning a seedy red-light district into a magnet destination for arts lovers, residents, visitors, and business owners. Founded in 1984, the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust is a non-profit arts organization whose mission is the cultural and economic revitalization of a 14-block arts and entertainment/residential neighborhood called the Cultural District. The District is one of the country’s largest land masses “curated” by a single nonprofit arts organization. A major catalytic force in the city, the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust is a unique model of how public-private partnerships can reinvent a city with authenticity, innovation and creativity. Using the arts as an economic catalyst, the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust has holistically created a world-renowned Cultural District that is revitalizing the city, improving the regional economy and enhancing Pittsburgh’s quality of life. Thanks to the support of foundations, corporations, government agencies and thousands of private citizens, the Cultural Trust stands as a national model of urban redevelopment through the arts. For more information about all gallery exhibitions featured in the Cultural District, please visit

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