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Ron Copeland

Pittsburgh Center for the Arts


That which remains, is the source of my inspiration as an artist. Whether in the form of an architectural fragment, a piece of furniture now unrecognizable of a former life, or found bits of advertising text that is a vestige of the commerciality of a bygone era, I am attracted to transforming these remnants into a new visual language. Besides found objects my work may include painted elements, silkscreens and most recently plexiglass light boxes. Borrowing on the memory of the past, I want to imbue my work with a nostalgic nod but at the same time create a fresh mash-up of unexpected juxtapositions.


Ron Copeland is a multi-disciplinary artist based in Pittsburgh. His interests have focused on salvaging materials from abandoned spaces of the Rust Belt region. Taking fragments of what remains of houses or buildings he recreates the space of a life left behind, using remnants of human activity in areas now fallen into decay. Ron started visiting and documenting these sites with his camera, but instead of using traditional photography, he shares his experience with the viewer by recreating the atmosphere of the space, using discarded materials such as plywood boards, pieces of tapestry, old frames and signage. Found objects become symbolic of what society deems useless of saving or recycling. What once constituted a shelter, a home, a lifestyle, is now reduced to its bare elements: wood, metal, paper. The artist re-imagines them in an attempt to reconstruct the memories they carry. These artworks embrace a collective memory about a place, a time, a community. The piece “Revival” (2013) epitomizes this idea. Using details of advertisements from the 1940’s and 1950’s, the work is a chaotic amalgam of clean, flat images, and coarse, manufactured elements. This vintage-looking snapshot is a collage of ephemeral moments. Each piece is taken out of its original context, creating an ambiguity in the interpretation of the details. The original purpose of each material is defeated: the wood that once built a house becomes a painting surface; the commercial value of an advertisement that originally promoted a product has been removed...Copeland asks what ways can these things be re-conceived when their original existence has been taken away.