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Co-CREATE: Where Are the 2017 Co-CREATORS Now?

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There is so much to be excited about for this year’s Co-CREATE program and CREATE festival, but let’s take a moment to catch up with some of our 2017 team members. Remember, their progress doesn’t stop when the program ends, just like this year’s cohorts will make a creative difference well into the future. We talked with Gina Mazotta, Ashley Cecil, Lori Hepner, and Heather Wechter to get a sense of where they are today and how you can keep up with their work! Questions and Answers
  1. What has your creative life been like since the experience with Co-Create?
[caption id="attachment_3308" align="alignleft" width="189"]Gina Mazotta Gina Mazotta[/caption] Gina: “I have still been designing and creating custom hats and headpieces. I have moved into a new retail space in a growing area of East Liberty.” Ashley: “It’s been productive. I’m onto my next science-based artist residency, this time at a lab at the University of Pittsburgh, so I continue to make artwork inspired by scientific research.” Lori: “Well, River Route Residency, the excursion based artist-residency program that I started during Co-Create, had its first trip in June. We had a 2-day canoe trip with 10 people that included artists, arts-supporters, environmental activists, and an environmental lawyer.  It was a really fun weekend! That was followed by a 3 day mini studio residency and a pop-up exhibition at the AIR Gallery of work created during the residency. One of this year’s Co-Creators, Matthew Conboy, was one of the residency artists. A second trip is currently in the planning stages for July 2018. Heather: “We finally wrapped up the issues (bugs) of our MVP and are now trying to be smart about next steps in terms of development and partnerships. We haven’t had as much time to get involved with the creative community as we would like, but this should change in a few months, as our plans become firmer.”
  1. What were you hoping to accomplish from last year’s Co-Create? Do you feel like you achieved what you set out to?
[caption id="attachment_3307" align="alignleft" width="189"]Heather Heather Wechter[/caption] Gina: “I was hoping to get more national exposure, and was able to participate in a Pre-Derby millinery exhibition in Louisville, KY. I have gained many customers outside of the Pittsburgh area. I have also connected with a NY based designer and we are in the beginning stages of collaborating on a future collection.” Ashley: “The goal was to get help and guidance on launching a bird-safety window film, largely inspired by the museum’s BirdSafe Pittsburgh program, which aims to mitigate the problem of up to one billion birds dying annually in the US from flying to windows. My window film is being manufactured and sold by a company in Maryland, so I guess you could say I did achieve what I set out to do.” Lori: “Planning and executing the residency program was the primary goal that I was focusing on. At the same time, I was looking to also expand my visibility as an individual artist and to expand the venues for my work. I started a collaborative performance project, Intersection*ology, with singer Kendra Ross, which is a feminist performance piece that uses wearable technology as a live light-painting experience. In the past 9 months, we’ve gotten grants from the Heinz Small Arts Initiative and The Opportunity Fund to expand the initial 20-minute performance into a feature length, which we’ll be performing in Pittsburgh in the upcoming months.”” Heather: “One goal was to identify either partners or contractors to help us realize our vision for tribepool. With the help of contacts made through the program, we found a great partner who helped to better articulate the vision of tribepool and produced our website and videos. After multiple interviews, we finally located a development group that we felt understood our goals and was willing to work within a very stingy timeline.”
  1. Have your goals grown or evolved since the program ended?
[caption id="attachment_3306" align="alignleft" width="179"]Lori Hepner Lori Hepner[/caption] Gina: “I am still working towards finding new ways to gain exposure on a National level through collaborations, product placement, and celebrity gift packages.” Ashley: “Yes, similar to my residency at the natural history museum, I have a series of science and nature conservation-based residencies scheduled in Pittsburgh. I don’t know if any commercial products (like the window film) will come out of those experiences. Time will tell. Even if that’s not the case, my work as an artist is developing nicely.” Lori: “I’ve set out a goal of getting my artwork onto the walls of more art collectors in the next year. Through focusing on the business savvy side of my practice, I have had the best year for art sales in my history. I feel that the potential for more arts appreciators to turn into art lovers by buying work that they love is higher than ever before in the Pittsburgh region.” Heather: “Yes! Once our app was up and running, the day-to-day business of development and administrative needs! The workload is tremendous!”
  1. How can people see or get involved in your work now?
[caption id="attachment_3305" align="alignleft" width="176"]Ashley Cecil Ashley Cecil[/caption] Gina: “They can visit my space at Kiya Tomlin’s boutique in East liberty at 5983 Broad Street, Pittsburgh, or they can email me if they are interested in commissioning a piece of their own: Ashley: “The best way to stay in the know is to subscribe to my blog at and follow me on instagram at @ashleycecil.” Lori: “I’m happy to book studio visits to my studio in Lawrenceville to share what I’m working on! Most weeks, I can be available a various times Thursdays-Sunday, so if someone contacts me in advance, we can set up a time. I’m donating a piece to Silver Eye’s benefit auction this year, which is being held on May 19th. The preview exhibit for the auction will open to coincide with the PGH Photo Fair that is being held at the Carnegie Museum of Art on April 28th-29th.” Heather: “Visit our website at The tribepool app is available for free in the Apple App Store for iOS and GooglePlay for android.” For more information on the 2017 and 2018 Co-CREATORS, head to our blog!