Billboard Art
40 x 20 feet

Brownshill Road
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

Billboard Art Project Gives Motorists a “Splat!” in the Face

PITTSBURGH—A roadside billboard, located on Brownshill Road, Squirell Hill, features the artwork of local artist Rachel Renee Stewart for the enjoyment of city drivers. Installed on April 5, 2007, this in-your-face public artwork was launched from 'Making Mass Media', a special art class offered by Visiting Assistant Professor Christopher Sperandio as part of the drawing/painting/printmaking curriculum at Carnegie Mellon University.

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The billboard features a photo taken from the point of view of a driver’s windshield, speeding inbound on "the death strech" of Route 28. It is a recognizable scene to Pittsburgh’s drivers, yet Stewart’s image centers on a sloppy surprise. “Splat!” In the middle of the windshield, a beautiful butterfly meets its messy end. “Even before I could tell what exactly what the picture was, I was intrigued by it,” said John Pena, an Art Graduate Student at CMU.

The initial goal of the piece was to create a striking impact on the viewer, who would likely be traveling by at a high speed. Stewart created this effect by mixing media in an innovative way to show the viewer the energy in a random, yet commonplace event. The butterfly’s wings are constructed from a detailed digital photo collaged onto to the photo of the windshield. Its smashed body and legs are made of a gooey blob of paint, which the artist flung at the surface of the photo-collage. Stewart’s imagery comes from her an interest in opposites colliding, in this case, with the implications of driving a car:

Special thanks to Jeremy Gibson for the use of his photo of Pittsburgh.

No butterflies were harmed in the making of this art.