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Civic Impact

Giant steelworker sculptures from steel-plant scrap, 15 years in the making, to loom over South Side

Tim Kaulen and 21 other artists have spent the last 15 years constructing 20-foot tall sculptures of steelworkers from steel beams taken from the Hot Metal Bridge and scrap metal from the Hazelwood LTV coke plant site, including a ladle.
Now the sculptures, called The Workers, are ready to be set in their permanent home at the South Side Riverfront Park near the 18th Street boat launch, and Kaulen is both happy and relieved.
What began as an homage to steelworkers, unions and other long-powerful labor forces in the city has become now, Kaulen says, "about the people who go to work every day -- a broader homage to labor and the spirit we all carry in this region. I'm still a little bit nervous, anticipating completion."
The two figures will be visible from the Birmingham Bridge, the south shore of the Monongahela River and perhaps even the cars rushing by on the opposite side of the water. But there is still "some assembly required," Kaulen says -- and he hopes that assembly draws a crowd. The Pittsburgh Industrial Arts Co-Op, as the artists are collectively known, plans to announce the artworks' moving date within the next two weeks. Concrete is already poured, but slightly disassembling the figures, moving them and reconstructing them at their new home will take three days.
The project began in 1997 as a commission from the City of Pittsburgh and the Heinz Endowments. The PJ Dick Corporation and Century Steel Erectors are working to put it in place.  
"I'm hoping the site can become a destination," says Kaulen. "For me, having the piece in public and accessible is the new goal, and at that point I think it will speak for itself."
Writer: Marty Levine
Source: Tim Kaulen
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