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Marvin Touré
the blood is the water.
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Catalina Schliebener Muñoz
Deep, Deep Woods
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Isla Hansen
How to Get to Make Believe
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Andrea Peña
States of Transmutation
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Asim Waqif
Assume the Risk
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After School

Teen Art Cooperative
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The Mattress Factory is an artist-centered museum, international residency program and renowned producer and presenter of installation art. We say “yes” to artists, offering time and space to dream and realize projects in our hometown, Pittsburgh, PA. We invite audiences from around the world and around the corner to step inside, immerse and connect with the artistic process.

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On View

Isla Hansen

How to Get to Make Believe

This play is a reflection on the (im)possibility of accepting diversity and the other. The fragmented body of the neoplasm—the fruit of unstable conditions—overcomes barriers, loves and denies itself and others, wanders around, forgetting its profession. It frequently and with pleasure divides, goes through dangerous palpation, questions the possibility of contact with the experience of the other. Poorly brought up but very successful, it invites us to a trans-species transition.

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Artist and educator Isla Hansen’s (she/her) solo exhibition showcases her extensive work with textiles, performance, design, and new media. Ostensibly playful, Hansen’s multidisciplinary approach reveals a complex practice of making with unconventional materials, processes, and experimentation. For How to Get to Make Believe, the artist looked to the canonical television show Mister Rogers Neighborhood (1968-2001) for the conceptual framework of her exhibition. Fred Rogers was born in nearby Latrobe and the show was produced here in Pittsburgh. Not unlike Rogers’ pedagogical approach, Hansen situates her own work in relationship to her community and the cultural history of the city. The residential architecture of this gallery, along with Allen Wexler’s Bed Sitting Rooms for an Artist in Residence in the anterior room (which is a part of the museum’s long-term collection) make the second floor uniquely suited for Hansen’s intervention. During her residency, working with the integral support and collaboration of the museum’s staff, the artist has created a dreamy environment that is part fantasy and part television studio, with the domestic landscape a symbolic nod to Rogers. Within the artist’s various modes of making, each motific element is meant to be an homage to Rogers’ influential career as a whole rather than a literal interpretation of any particular detail from the show. For example, Hansen has planned a number of activations in the gallery during the course of the exhibition. One is to use a portion of the space as an extension of her studio practice to make work onsite. Another is to produce “episodes” developed in collaboration with intellectual partners devoted to discussing topics ranging from social issues to contemporary art. As the exhibition title suggests, each object, or figure, or movement through the exhibition invites visitors to engage in a naive exploration reminiscent of the educational format of the television show.

Text by Monique Long

This project received additional support from a Heinz Endowments Creative Development Award, the Dedalus Foundation Fund for Past Fellows and Awardees, the College of Fine Arts Fund for Research and Creativity, and the CMU Center for the Arts in Society.

Special thank you to: Tucker Marder, Elaine + Stan Hansen, Caroline Kroger, Monique Long, Chase Ceglie, Lydia Rosenberg, Imin Yeh, Danny Bracken, Emily Uhrin, Jamie McArthur, Tom Chalabi, Natalie Miczikus, Finn Dugan, and Dylan Critchfield-Sales.

Hansen was selected for exhibition by Guest Curator, Monique Long, a New York City-based contemporary art curator and writer through Mattress Factory's annual Regional Open Call. This program is an ongoing effort to amplify the voices and profiles of artists from in and around Pittsburgh by connecting creatives in our community with curators, artists, institutions, and scholars throughout the world.  




Ratlet T. Pesquinche, also known mononymously as Ratlet, is a talk show host, media producer, and art collector. She is best known for her talk show and youtube channel, Ratlet’s Tomorrow Today, filmed inside of the television show and exhibition, How to Get to Make Believe, installed by artist Isla Hansen at the Mattress Factory museum’s Monterey building. Dubbed the Rodent Queen of Reality, Ratlet is the world’s only part-rat part-pig puppet patron of the arts. Influenced by luminaries in her fields, such as LeVar Burton, Terry Gross, Oprah Winfrey, Fred Rogers, Kermit The Frog, Barbara Luderowski, and the Vogels, Ratlet’s Tomorrow Today show sparks conversations with human artists, writers, makers, technologists, and neighbors to talk making play, making art, and making believe.

Artist Statement

Isla Hansen is a Pittsburgh-based artist making objects, tools, toys, sculptures, performances, systems, interactive installations, animations, workshops, and videos that address the ways in which bodies connect to technologies in the world around us. Isla’s work sets in motion new and sometimes crude means of image-making in order to break down processes of technological mediation and draw attention to the soft or clunky reality of our human bodies. She combines soft and hard materials, digital fabrication, real time media, and techniques from online DIY culture to blur consumer-producer boundaries and challenge the way in which industrial forms of production displace visible forms of human labor.


March 9, 2024 - March 30, 2025


1414 Monterey, 2nd Floor

About The Artist

Isla Hansen's solo and collaborative work has been exhibited at the Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh, the Akron Art Museum, the Columbus Museum of Art, the Lightwell Gallery at the University of Oklahoma, the Moss Art Center at Virginia Tech, MoCA Cleveland, the Hammer Museum in Los Angeles, Public Pool Gallery in Los Angeles, the Parrish Art Museum in Watermill, NY, the Gallery at Industry City in Brooklyn, Three Four Three Four in Brooklyn, and Guild Hall Center for Visual and Performing Arts in East Hampton, NY. Isla has been the recipient of a Robert Rauschenberg Foundation Residency, the Dedalus Foundation Master of Fine Arts Fellowship, Frank-Ratchye Fund for Art at the Frontier grants from The Studio for Creative Inquiry, and a three year fellowship from the Center for the Arts in Society. Isla grew up in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and Lewiston, Maine. She currently teaches sculpture in the School of Art at Carnegie Mellon University.


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