Working Thought

Forum Gallery, Heinz Galleries

Featuring works by 35 contemporary artists, Working Thought examines the role art can play in considering and questioning the many ways economic disparity and labor have shaped American life past and present.

Working Thought showcases artwork across media and generations, highlighting connections between diverse artistic practices. In this exhibition, a combination of new commissions and loans are presented alongside works from the museum’s collection, positioning the collection in a new light and within the context of the history of Pittsburgh as a center of industry.

The exhibition probes the connections between art, economy, and labor within the larger historical relationship between Carnegie Museum of Art, Andrew Carnegie, and the city of Pittsburgh. The museum’s origins can be traced to 1886 with Andrew Carnegie’s initial concept: a museum that would “bring the world” to the people of Pittsburgh, particularly those who worked for the steel magnate. Traces of industry and toil can still be seen at the museum outside of Working Thought; from John White Alexander’s mural The Crowning of Labor which adorns the walls of the 1907 Grand Staircase, to artworks from the collection hanging throughout the museum, visitors can discern themes of labor and economy in every gallery.

The wide range of artworks featured in Working Thought provide many points of entry into the topics of labor and the economy and shed light on the power of art to complicate our most deeply seated assumptions about American history and the social inequities that mark contemporary life.

Working Thought is organized by Eric Crosby, Henry J. Heinz II Director, Carnegie Museum of Art and Vice President, Carnegie Museum of Pittsburgh, with Kiki Teshome, Margaret Powell Curatorial Fellow, and former curatorial assistants Ashley McNelis and Hannah Turpin.

Working Thought Film Series:

As part of Working Thought, five independent films by Frederick Wiseman, Barbara Kopple, Steven Bognar and Julia Reichert, Charles Burnett, and Pittsburgh-based filmmaker Tony Buba will be screened in the Carnegie Museum of Art Theater. Each film addresses topics of labor and economy and will be presented by a local expert whose background engages with the topic of that film.

Programs and Events:

Extending out of the galleries, the exhibition will feature a line-up of public programs connecting the region’s labor history and artistic practice through conversations, performances, and artist workshops.

Featured Artists

  • Laura Aguilar
  • Steven Bognar
  • Andrea Bowers
  • Tony Buba
  • Charles Burnett
  • Margarita Cabrera
  • Keith Calhoun
  • Tony Cokes
  • Moyra Davey
  • Kevin Jerome Everson
  • Andrea Fraser
  • Jill Freedman
  • Theaster Gates
  • Liz Glynn
  • Jessica Jackson Hutchins
  • Kahlil Robert Irving
  • Tomashi Jackson
  • Barbara Kopple
  • Fred Lonidier
  • Ken Lum
  • Chandra McCormick
  • Rodney McMillian
  • Joe Minter
  • Gordon Newton
  • Ricardo iamuuri Robinson
  • Cameron Rowland
  • Julia Reichert
  • Jaune Quick-to-See Smith
  • Aaron Spangler
  • Mierle Laderman Ukeles
  • Jessica Vaughn
  • Kara Walker
  • Carmen Winant
  • Frederick Wiseman
  • Martin Wong

Exhibition Images

Premier Partners

Significant support is provided by Kathe and Jim Patrinos, the Susan J. and Martin G. McGuinn Exhibition Fund, and the Virginia Kaufman Fund.

Generous support is provided by Brian Wongchaowart, with additional support from the Ford Family Foundation, Nancy and Woody Ostrow, and The Fellows of Carnegie Museum of Art.

Andy Warhol Foundation
Support for curatorial research has been provided by The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts.

Carnegie Museum of Art is supported by The Heinz Endowments and Allegheny Regional Asset District. Carnegie Museum of Art receives state arts funding support through a grant from the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, a state agency funded by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.