Melissa was selected by The Heinz Endowments to photograph with eight other photographers in a three-year project called “Downtown Now,” which documented the changing culture of Pittsburgh.
Her photographs bring life to historic points of the city—Point State Park, Market Square, the Monongahela riverfront and cultural events held at Heinz Hall and the August Wilson Center.
Inspiration for the project draws from the Pittsburgh Photographic Library’s archive coordinated by Roy Stryker for the first Pittsburgh Renaissance in the 1950s. Images of the combined work are hanging in the Carnegie Museum of Art through March 2012 . Roy Stryker came to Pittsburgh from the Farm Security Administration (FSA), the Information Division of the FSA adopted a goal of “introducing America to Americans.” Many of the most famous Depression-era photographers were fostered by the FSA project. Walker Evans, Dorothea Lange, and Gordon Parks were three of the most famous FSA alumni.
The project is explained in a press release for the accompanying exhibition at the Carnegie Museum in Pittsburgh:
“For more than a century, the city of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania has been the subject of some of America’s most important photographers. The exhibition Picturing the City: Downtown Pittsburgh, 2007–2010, on view September 23, 2011 to March 25, 2012 at Carnegie Museum of Art, adds to this important photographic legacy presenting 86 recent images from nine contemporary photographers who call the city their home.
Inspired by the city’s rich documentary tradition, the photographers recorded a Downtown where people, buildings, and landscapes have been recently altered dramatically in the wake of $2 billion in public-private development projects. The changes are noted along rivers, in parks, buildings, and transportation systems; and they are brought to life through the celebrations and challenges experienced by people who live and work Downtown.
The images in Picturing the City were selected by Linda Benedict-Jones, the museum’s curator of photography, from hundreds of images shot for the Downtown Now Photography Project. The project was created by The Heinz Endowments to document the rapidly changing face of Downtown Pittsburgh. Between 2007 and 2010, photographers Melissa Farlow, Jim Judkis, Richard Kelly, Kenneth Neely, Annie O’Neill, Mark Perrott, Martha Rial, Renee Rosensteel, and Dylan Vitone photographed Pittsburgh’s central business district and surrounding areas, documenting the vibrancy of a city undergoing a renaissance that rivals any previous development boom.
Picturing the City presents these nine artists as the new generation in a long history of nationally regarded photographers using Pittsburgh as their subject. One hundred years earlier, from 1907 to 1910, the Pittsburgh Survey became one of the first sociological studies of urban industrial America, with Lewis Hine creating some of the earliest examples of socially committed photojournalism. In the 1950s, efforts to document the city through the Pittsburgh Photographic Library were an important part of the city’s first renaissance. A small selection of images from both of these historic examinations of Pittsburgh are included in Picturing the City, along with work by notable 20th-century photographers W. Eugene Smith and Charles “Teenie” Harris, placing the present day photography in illustrious company—and important context….”