🗣 Locals to Know: Meet Dana Bishop-Root, museum educator

Our Local Favorites: 2022 Arts & Culture Guide is here! See you who made the list, from your favorite museum on the North Shore to your favorite concert venue in Homestead. From the Pittsburgh Glass Center to Unblurred, your picks represent the bold, diverse and ever-innovative Pittsburgh arts scene.

Apropos, this week’s Local to Know works for one of your favorite museums, where she’s designing programming to help visitors interpret and understand the ambitious works that’ll be on display come September in the 58th Carnegie International. Meet Dana Bishop-Root, Carnegie Museum of Art’s Director of Education and Public Programs (Full disclosure: I used to work for an org affiliated with CMOA that Dana helped oversee).

Hi, Dana! Tell our readers who you are and what you do.

I am the Director of Education and Public Programs at Carnegie Museum of Art. I also serve on the board of the Opportunity Fund, Associated Artists of Pittsburgh, and the advisory boards of Arts Excursions Unlimited and The Wellness Collective. I am a lover of long, full days of art, people, difference, possibilities, growing plants and ideas, learning and justice.

Wax poetic for a second and tell us: what brings you most alive about this city?

The people. The ways we find ourselves in relationship to each other; building collective visions and actions, weaving together histories and places and differences. Learning becomes a foundation in which we can all grow. I also really like the hills in this town — I like running up hills!

If you could eat only one meal from a local restaurant for the rest of your life, what would it be?

I love being at any party that Black Radish Kitchen caters; they do locally sourced vegetables right. 

Outside of the obvious stop above, share your other top three destinations for where you’d go on your perfect Pittsburgh day.

I would begin my morning at Frick Park, Biddle entrance for my favorite two-mile loop under the big trees, and then I would head to Carnegie Museum of Art.  After experiencing all the art, I’d take an energy replenishing break in Carnegie Museum of Natural History’s Hall of Gems and Minerals. Then, I would end my day talking to my favorite people about community and books at the Braddock Carnegie Library.

Large colorful panels hang from scaffolding in a museum courtyard.
An installation view of Rafael Domenech’s “Dividing an edge from an ever (pavilion for Sarduy)” at the Carnegie Museum of Art.

What’s your favorite local social media account (Instagram, Twitter, TikTok, or etc.) to follow and why?

Kelly Strayhorn TheatreTheir feeds are incredible.  They feature their artistic program and so many dynamic artists in the region and highlight various neighborhood events.  They also ask challenging questions of all of us while sharing history and calls to action in support of Black arts, queer arts, and housing justice in Pittsburgh. 

How does Pittsburgh help you do what you do/influence your work?

The differences between neighborhoods and peoples’ lived experiences open spaces for how we can build resources that support each other between organizations, communities, and each other. 

What are you most looking forward to this year?

Is it morning for you yet? the 58th Carnegie International! The curatorial team, Sohrab Mohebbi, Ryan Inouye, and Talia Heiman, along with a curatorial council and advisors located around the world have brought together artists whose lives, practices, and places have been impacted by the geopolitical footprint of the United States. This exhibition makes tangible the ways in which art exists beyond social and political constructions while being in direct conversation with them. 

Being at the museum every day, I am getting glimpses of the new commissions in the exhibition. Artist Thu Van Tran and a group of art installers and artist assistants spent two weeks transforming the balcony walls in the museum’s Hall of Sculpture with dense fields of color, layered upon each other to create magical and multi-dimensional surfaces where memory and feeling are called upon from each of us. It is breathtaking, and this is just one of more than 100 artists participating in the 58th Carnegie International! 

This exhibition has been in the making for more than two years and involves every single person who works at the museum – it has been a tremendous team effort, and I hope all of Pittsburgh will join us for the show! For a full list of the events, programs, and learning resources, check out CMOA.org.

Know of a person or organization that we ought to feature? Send us an email to hello@theincline with the subject line “Incline Locals to Know,” and you could see their name in an upcoming newsletter!