On the north shore of Pittsburgh sits a memorable piece of artwork called Mythic Source and Piazza Lavoro. It was created by public art sculptor Ned Smyth. An artist who has done other such artwork all over the country and the Virgin Islands. His work is exhibited in galleries and museums around the world. In 1990 Smyth was recognized by the New York City Art Commission for Excellence in Design. He has also received an award from the National Endowment for the Arts for his work.
Mythic Source and Piazza Lavoro was installed at Allegheny Landing on June 12, 1984. It was commissioned by the Heinz Family and the H.J. Heinz Company as a way to honor the contributions of Pittsburgh to American labor.
It was made from cast concrete, marble mosaic and terrazzo. It consists of four freestanding facades that stand silhouetted on a hill and are covered with mosaics. The images depicted on them are intended to distinguish the involvement of American Labor’s role in the creation of our nation and the fragile relationship between civilization and nature.
The nude figures depicted in the mosaics on the Piazza Lavoro façade signify the contributions of men and women whose toil and pain was used to build civilizations and their monuments. On the largest façade of Piazza Lavoro is an image of a palm tree. It is there to remind viewers of nature. Two of the columns are also in the shape of a palm trees. This palm tree image is used as a counterbalance to the achievements of civilization. The terrazzo and mosaic spherical floor of Mythic Source is a celebration of water, which has always been crucial for not only Pittsburgh but all of civilization.
Even with the multifaceted symbolism represented in Piazza Lavoro and Mythic Source, the artist Ned Smyth considers himself a populist who believes that public works of art should communicate with people.
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