The 412 Project Showcases Steel City Photographers

Published On October 27, 2015 | By Zoe Hannah | The Arts

After becoming a part of Pittsburgh’s photography community on Instagram, resident Wendy Lachendro (@pittsburghinpictures) felt that our city’s amateur photographers needed a tangible space to show off their work…

“I was fairly new to Instagram,” Lachendro said in a recent interview with NakYouOut. “And I thought, “There are so many cool photographers on [this platform]. Wouldn’t it be cool to host a pop-up showcasing [all of the] local photography?””

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Ztruk Anna Kurtz @ztrukanna

Her dream became a reality on Friday, Oct. 23 when the 412 Project made its debut. Located in the Gateway Center Kiosk on Liberty Ave., the 412 Project is a small pop-up display drawing inspiration from the Robot Repair Shop (2011, 2012)–a previous public art installation disguised as a fictional business–which was positioned across from Heinz Hall.

Comprised of around 40 photographs, the pop-up location will be Downtown for the better part of two months, and it’ll showcase pictures taken by local photographers who were handpicked by Lachendro and the 412 Project team.

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Lachendro & Hogan

The team discovered all of the exhibit’s photographers via Instagram after asking followers to tag their pictures of Pittsburgh with the hashtag: #412Project. Members then used their aesthetic expertise to decide which photographs would be featured in the pop-up display.

“At first, it was like a blind search,” 412 Project team member Patrick Hogan said. “The team didn’t know who would respond to their call for photographs, but they were met with what is now over one thousand submissions via the Instagram hashtag.”

After two months of deliberating over which photos should be featured and how they should be arranged, the team finally revealed the exhibition on Friday. Some of Lachendro’s own photography is also featured in the current exhibit, which will likely feature new photos in about a month.

“I think it’s a nice way to make the city more appealing,” Lachendro said. “Now you can physically see a group of [the pictures] up close and personal, and just appreciate what Pittsburgh has to offer.”

Lachendro hopes to continue 412 Project’s presence Downtown by adding more pop-up showcases, but the organization does not yet have the funding to do so. Other than the Maya Group and Hertz Investment Group‘s donation of the kiosk for two months’ time, the 412 Project relies on their photographers to fund their own prints.

Though the organization currently receives no funding or profits, the connection they’ve made with the local community (and each other) has proven much more worthwhile:

“We didn’t even really know each other,” Lachendro said, as she motioned towards Hogan. “We met each other at an Insta-meet and we followed each other on Instagram… And then we just came together to try to bring this to life.”

“That’s the unique part,” said Hogan, a previous RAW artist, and the moderator of local Instagram page, @PittsburghsMostDope. “It’s about building a community through social media. All day long, I’m on Instagram, double-tapping somebody’s photo because I like it, but I’ll never know that person. So this is that step closer to knowing the person [behind the photos].”

Laurie Gregio @raineysday11

Lachendro and Hogan, who curated this month’s exhibit along with nine other team members, both found inspiration in the crowd that came to the pop-up for Friday’s big reveal:

“I met a lot of people whose work I followed, but I never knew who they were… So that was awesome [to meet them], too,” Hogan said.

In lieu of professional, established photographers already making significant incomes from their work, the organization prides itself on providing a space for amateur photographers to showcase their pieces as a way to get recognized. The 412 Project also selected 20 featured artists (in addition to team members) who could show off their work in the exhibit. A handful of artists’ photos (Kurtz, Gregio, Schmude) as well as photos from the exhibit are pictured throughout the article.

Lachendro and Hogan did not see the 412 Project showcase from the front until it was revealed on Friday, but they are thoroughly satisfied with its end result.

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Elizabeth Schmude @elizabeth_schm

Be sure to stop by and check out the current exhibit at Gateway Center next time you’re Downtown — we believe their start is quite promising, and we can’t wait to see what they’ll produce for future exhibits to come.

“There’s so much talent and there’s so much material,” Lachendro said of Pittsburgh and its photo community. “You can never really run out of things to show off.”

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