Wightman Park Public Art Unveiled in Squirrel Hill

PITTSBURGH, PA (October 22, 2020) The Public Art & Civic Design Division (PACD) of the Department of City Planning is pleased to announce the unveiling of a large public art project in the newly renovated Wightman Park in Squirrel Hill. 

The free-standing sculptures were designed and fabricated by artists Oreen Cohen and Alison Zapata of OOA Designs. OOA DESIGNS is a woman owned and operated artist collaboration between founders Oreen Cohen and Alison Zapata, established in 2018. They create aesthetic and functional public art that embraces color, forms and nature within their collaborative work. OOA developed, produced, and fabricated the Wightman Park sculptures between 2018-2020. 

This City of Pittsburgh project was administered by PACD in collaboration with the Department of Public Works (DPW) and Council District 8. Funding came from DPW’s Capital Budget to meet the City’s Percent For Art requirement. The artists were selected through an RFP process, and have been working with DPW and Pashek + MTR to install the artwork.

Cohen and Zapata incorporated Wightman Park’s water and pollinator conservancy initiatives while also considering the history of the site as a glass manufacturing plant. The four large-scale sculptures of this installation are inspired by a waterfall, a bee hive, and pollinator insects. The works, titled Cascade (the bench), Transform, Pollinate, and Illuminate (the bugs), use a zero-waste model that incorporates laser cut stainless steel to reflect the park’s nature and new storm water run-off design. 

During meetings held by Council and the City, the community expressed wanting to see Wightman Park represented as a historical site of the Lorenz and Wightman Glass manufacturers. To commemorate this, eleven plates of dichroic borosilicate glass are inserted into the negative boulder shapes of the large waterfall sculpture. These glass pieces were purchased from the last standing glass production facility in Pittsburgh, Jeanette Glass. These fine details to the final aesthetic of the sculptures adds dimension not only to the artwork but activates the park as a reflective and welcoming site that incorporates the visions of community, history, and its future. OOA partnered with the Pittsburgh Glass Center, glass artist Ashley McFarland, and Protohaven Makerspace in the production of this work. 

OOA Designs’ intentions in designing these sculptures was to fabricate considerate aesthetic designs that build connections with the immediate environment, communities, and functions of place. The no-waste process incorporates often discarded pieces into their concepts. Made in collaboration with a local Pittsburgh industrial facility, the production of the laser-cut stainless steel created negative and positive organic shapes. The “drops” or “fall outs” that normally are scraped were used to create three of the sculptures. 

In December of 2019, OOA ran a workshop using the drop cuts from a small scale wooden model to work with the young students at the Carriage House Children's Center across the street from the park. The children puzzled together the pieces into what inspired the creation of the pollinator bugs. In the fabrication process, OOA used the steel drop pieces to create the three pollinator bugs (a butterfly, a bee, and a lighting bug) to be placed in the meadow areas of the park. Now, the children playing in the park will be able to remember that their vision had a part in creating these monumental works of art.


Oreen Cohen

Lead Project Artist, OOA Designs


Anthony Cavalline

Arts, Culture, and History Specialist, PACD 

Andrew Dash

Director of City Planning

(Graphic: OOA Designs)



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