Award #20: Carrie Deer Salvage Art Workshop

The Carrie Deer - Hard Hat Tour, Rivers of Steel National Heritage Area / Photo by Sharon Brown, GLYPH INC
The Carrie Deer – Hard Hat Tour, Rivers of Steel National Heritage Area. Photo by Sharon Brown, GLYPH INC



While most Southwestern Pennsylvanians believe the deer population to be a detriment, they could hardly argue that the 40-foot Carrie Deer Head, constructed from recycled steel objects, has not been a boon to the region.

The Carrie Furnaces, located in Rankin, PA along the Monongahela River, were built in 1884, operated until 1982, and were part of the larger Homestead Steel Works.  In the late 1990s, inspired by abandoned industrial sites, a group of artists completed the deer head sculpture on the grounds of the former Carrie Furnaces. By 2010, the Rivers of Steel Hard Hat Tours had become a popular historic and cultural activity.

Building upon this storied history, Awesome Pittsburgh awarded a $1,000 grant this month to the Carrie Deer Salvage Art Workshop, a project engaging 12 students from community schools in artistic collaboration with Pittsburgh artists, via the creation of a sculpture garden.

The Workshop begins on August 3 with a site tour led by Rivers of Steel for the students and their families, followed by three hands-on Saturday sessions in which students collaborate with mentor artists. The Salvage Art Workshop will use the same techniques that built Carrie Deer (same basic hand tools and similar found materials). Students will learn the history of the site, the region’s industrial heritage, and what inspired the Deer artists – all while working in this unusual environment to explore their own ideas of public art and salvage sculpture. Presentations by the Sprout Fund will introduce them to the complexities of large-scale works, public installations and community interaction with public works.

Awesome Pittsburgh Trustee Jeb Feldman shared his enthusiasm for the project:

“The Carrie Furnace industrial site and its Deer Head art piece represents an enormous opportunity to educate, engage and excite a large audience not just from within the region, but nationally and internationally. Rivers of Steel’s magnanimous efforts to raise awareness of Carrie Furnace’s preservation and Southwestern Pennsylvania’s industrial heritage while promoting the local arts and culture community is uniquely Pittsburgh and regionally important. The Awesome Foundation is proud to assist with the Carrie Deer Salvage Art Workshop which highlights a legendary piece of salvage art, focuses on the Carrie Furnace site’s preservation, and promotes the reuse of reclaimed materials.”

On-line registration (here) for the Carrie Furnaces Salvage Art Workshop is made possible by The Sprout Fund’s HIVE Days of Summer; Alloy Pittsburgh will provide instructors for the workshop.  In addition, associated instructor and metal artist Tim Kaulen of the Industrial Art Co-op will provide unique insight into the site and development of the collaborative artwork.

You can learn more at the Carrie Deer website, on the team’s Facebook page, or by contacting Sharon Brown at sb.msb [at]