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April 11, 1996

"Street Memorials" exhibit sparked by professor's research

"Street Memorials," a collection of original paintings, lyrics and poetry by young people from Homewood, Larimer, East Hills, Manchester and Garfield, will be exhibited at 1701 Cathedral of Learning, beginning next week.

The collection reproduces graffiti art commemorating victims of recent gang-related killings in Pittsburgh. One of those victims was Peabody football star Dorion Reid, pictured below in a mural by Garfield's Maurice Capone.

Pitt anthropology professor Gabriele Sturzenhofecker, who has been doing research on girls and women who participate in gangs, invited neighborhood graffiti artists to reproduce their work on 4 X 8' foam-core boards. Most of the work was done in Sturzenhofecker's office, 1701 Cathedral, where the exhibition can be viewed by appointment, April 19-May 6. (Call 624-4780 to schedule an appointment.) The exhibition opens April 18, 6-8 p.m., with a by-invitation-only reception. In June, "Street Memorials" will move to Carnegie Library in Oakland.

Sturzenhofecker calls the murals "elaborately painted, symbolically charged, and historically meaningful pieces of art that pay tribute to a lost friend." Each mural is complemented by poetry and lyrics by Garfield native Melinda Ellis, relating to the events the murals depict. Ellis is collaborating on Sturzenhofecker's research on gangs.

Sturzenhofecker said her research, which is funded by the H.F. Guggenheim Foundation, "explores how young people in these neighborhoods come to terms with the experience of loss and death, how they manage and express their grief, sorrow and desolation after the loss of a friend, and how such experiences structure their world-views. The study aims at understanding the place, meaning and experience of violence — physical and symbolic — in the construction of identity, and the place of violence in the lives of these women by elucidating the viewpoints of the women themselves."

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