“making home here” Exhibition Overview

making home here presents installations from five Pittsburgh-based artists who explore concepts of home as a site of both belonging and dislocation. Working across a range of mediums, the artists mine personal and public histories to create immersive environments that encourage contemplation of what it means to make home, especially under unwelcoming or precarious conditions. The five artists — Gavin Benjamin, Naomi Chambers, Justin Emmanuel Dumas, Njaimeh Njie, and Harrison Kinnane Smith – play off the domestic history of the Monterey Annex to examine liminality, familial and community bonds, and systemic racism (local and global) as it shapes our experiences of home.

Organized by Sean Beauford and Sylvia Rhor Samaniego

Visit the in-depth installation & artist pages by clicking the links below.

Gavin Andrew Benjamin, Living in Eden

With a series of 12 photographic panels, Gavin Andrew Benjamin examines the impact of colonialism, mass media and the lived environment on the identities of Black and immigrant people. The images – collaged with pages from home catalogs, news articles and self-portraiture – offer an introspective look into Benjamin’s experience as a Guyanese-born Pittsburgh resident, code-switching between domestic and public spaces.

Naomi Chambers, Black Community Survival Conference Tea Party Ice Cream Social Moonlit Cinema
Naomi Chambers draws upon the Black Panther Party’s Black Community Survival Conferences of the 1970s and Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs to imagine a modern convening where love, light, food and play are emphasized as necessities for the Black community to survive and to thrive. Chambers invites us to a wonderland of assemblage, paintings, sculpture and animation, and asks us to think about the ways we can come together to care for each other.

Justin Emmanuel Dumas, Good/Bones

In Good/Bones, Justin Emmanuel Dumas builds the interior and exterior of a home, centering the central threshold as a meditation on liminality. In this installation, Dumas considers the hero’s journey and the transformation that occurs between departure and return. By repurposing architectural remnants and manipulating a variety of materials, the artist asks us to look closer at the overlooked and to reconsider the use and histories of objects.

Njaimeh Njie, “Did you get everything?”
Njaimeh Njie’s two room installation transports visitors to the familiar setting of a living room and kitchen filled with relatives, overflowing with conversation and laughter. Moving boxes, suitcases, and walls showing where pictures used to live, allude to the precarity of housing for Black families in Pittsburgh. “Did you get everything?” prompts consideration for the memories, traditions and lessons we take with us when we leave our homes.

Harrison Kinnane Smith, Sed Valorem

Sed Valorem is a financial intervention in which Harrison Kinnane Smith arranged for the Mattress Factory to mortgage its property—a former home in a still residential neighborhood where the exhibition occurs—to reimburse a nearby Black homeowner for all excessive property taxes he will pay over the next 15 years as a result of racially discriminatory practices. Smith’s installation uses sculpture, video, photography and legal documents to demonstrate how Black homes are commercially devalued and subject to higher taxation.