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Download: Whatever It Takes poster
Photos on Flickr
Facebook group: Whatever It Takes
YouTube: footage of exhibition
List of Work: Whatever It Takes
Map of the Steeler Nation: Whatever It Takes
Media Contact: Margaret Cox, firstname.lastname@example.org
Whatever It Takes Co-curator: Astria Suparak, email@example.com
Press release Aug 11, 2010: Whatever It Takes
E-News: Sept. 2010
E-News: 9 Sept. 2010 Whatever It Takes reception
E-News: Nov. 2010 Holiday Hours + Gift Ideas + Whatever It Takes
E-News: Feb. 2011 Whatever It Takes to the Super Bowl, Super Bowl Party + Closing Reception
Become the “Twelfth” on the field
(in the gallery), by:
- Reenacting Franco Harris’ famous catch and becoming part of the legendary Immaculate Reception footage
- Video-chatting live with patrons in a Steelers bar in Rome
- Having your Steelers tattoo photographed and added to our ongoing collection
Pittsburgh Magazine: "Think you're passionate about the black and gold? Wait until you meet Ron and Denny." - Julie Talerico, "Ultimate Fan Guide: Fantast-ink," Pittsburgh Magazine, Sept. 2012
Pittsburgh Magazine: "Steel Shelter" - Julie Talerico, "Ultimate Fan Guide: Fantast-ink," Pittsburgh Magazine, Sept. 2012
ESPN Radio 1250: Stillers 365 interview with Jon Rubin
"Packers, Steelers fans among NFL's most rabid:
From cradle to grave, fans of Packers, Steelers live and die supporting their beloved teams" - Colin Fly and Joe Mandak Associated Press, "Packers, Steelers Fans Among NFL's Most Rabid," Feb. 2, 2011
ABC News, Forbes, Fox News, Houston Chronicle, Huffington Post, Miami Herald, NBC Sports,
NPR, Salon.com, SF Examiner, SF Chronicle, USA Today, Washington Post
Art Papers: "creative sublimation of fandom, with its inimitable rawness and verve." - Curt Riegelnegg, "Whatever It Takes Pittsburgh," Art Papers, Jan/Feb 2011
Patriot-News: "Eclectic exhibit... doesn't just blur the line between fan and team, it obliterates it entirely," - John Luciew, "Pittsburgh Steelers fans make themselves part of the team," The Patriot-News, Jan. 23, 2011
Beaver County Times: "Steelers fans’ obsessions cross all demographics." - Patti Conley, "Steelers fans go all-out to ensure win," Beaver County Times, Jan. 22, 2011
Pittsburgh Magazine: "Although larger, socio-economic types of questions arise here, basically this show, with its dash of OCD and affluenza, is a salute to the devotion and creative energy of the fans constituting Steelers Nation - which is not just Pittsburgh, not just Western Pennsylvania but a global village comprisign a highly diverse population with a tribal mentality. (Just take a look at the map in the gallery showing the Steelers bars and fan clubs around the planet." - Mike May, "Exhibits: Zap the cold with the Black and Gold, Pittsburgh Magazine," Jan. 2011
Pittsburgh City Paper: Voted BEST CROSSOVER ART EXHIBIT OF 2010, selected by City Paper's Staff. "Curated by Jon Rubin and Astria Suparak, Whatever It Takes features Steelers tattoos, fan garb, homemade football shrines ... everything you can imagine and some things you can't. Visitors are invited to consider Steelers fandom in light of working-class identity and the desire for stability during periods of economic upheaval. Or they can just think about how much ass Jack "Splat" Lambert used to kick." - CP Staff, "Doubling Down," Pittsburgh City Paper, Dec. 9, 2010
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: "[Whatever It Takes] dips its toes into the downright madness of Steeler fandom and how Steelers fans express themselves organically via their own creations," - Dan Gigler, "Black (and Gold) Friday," Blog 'n' Gold, Post-Gazette Sports Blog, Nov. 26, 2010
Observer-Reporter: "Exhibit showcases creative spirit of Steelers Nation," - Brad Hundt, "Exhibit showcases creative spirit of Steelers Nation," Observer-Reporter, Oct. 24, 2010
NYTimes: "explores the culture of Steelers Nation & the personal relationship btw the team the personal relationship between the team and its fans," "The Steelers at the Intersection of Iron City Beer and Art Basel," - Eric Dash, "The Steelers at the Intersection of Iron City Beer and Art Basel," New York Times, Sept. 18, 2010
Pop City Media: "Whatever it Takes: Steelers Fan Collections, Rituals and Obsessions...showcases Steeler fans as producers of pop culture and features an array of homemade shrines and totems," - Elaine Labalme, "New Girl in Town: The Women of Steeler Nation," Pop City Media, Sept. 14, 2010
ABC-affiliate WTAE Action News: "Appropriately called Whatever It Takes, check this out!," Steeler Nation On Display At CMU Exhibit, WTAE Pittsburgh, Sept. 9, 2010
Pittsburgh Tribune-Review: "Whatever it Takes: Steelers Fan Collections, Rituals and Obsessions...it's a shrine to Steeler mania and a testament to the fans' intensely personal relationship with the team," - William Loeffler, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, Sept. 11, 2010
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: "Pittsburgh Revolution: Interactive view of Pittsburgh. All Steelers all the time in this fan shrine at CMU's Miller Gallery" - Steve Mellon, Steelers shrine, Miller Gallery at Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh Revolution, Sept. 8, 2010
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: "In
creating this amusing, endearing portrait of Pittsburgh sports
fans, the curators aimed to examine how fans become producers
of culture by constructing their personal and social identities
in relation to the team. The result is that the gallery feels
like a fun house where Steelers Nation is reflected through a
- "CMU exhibit shows how fans created Steeler Nation culture," - Marylynne Pitz, "CMU exhibit examines the culture of Steelers nation," Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Sept. 8, 2010
Pop City Media: "The latest pop subculture to be tackled by the Miller Gallery is one that's very close to home... The first-of-its-kind exhibition reflects the cultural, psychological and emotional forces at work behind the Steel Curtain" - "Art Score: The Immaculate Reception," Pop City Media, Sept. 10, 2010
Behind the Steel Curtain: "It was an almost unthinkable mix of contemporary-art types and Stillers fans, and it's hard to imagine anything other than this event that would actually get them in the same room... a very clever and innovative idea"
- Rebecca Rollett, "Whatever It Takes - A Look at Steeler Nation," Behind the Steel Curtain, Sep 10, 2010
Pittsburgh City Paper: "Art of the Steel: A New CMU Exhibit Celebrates Steelers Fandom," - Robert Isenberg, "Art of the Steel," Pittsburgh City Paper, Sept. 9, 2010
Nice Pick Cowher.com: "Steeler Nation Exhibits Awesomeness," Nice Pick Cowher.com Blog, Aug. 2010
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: "Quite possibly the first art exhibit in the known universe dedicated to Steelers fans." - Dan Gigler, "The Art of Steeler Fandom," Post-Gazette Sports Blog, Aug. 27, 2010
Steelers Fan Collections, Rituals, and Obsessions
Curated by Jon Rubin + Astria Suparak
Aug. 27, 2010 - Jan. 30, 2011
- Steelers in Super Bowl! Exhibition extended thru Feb. 6
If space aliens landed in Pittsburgh, what would they determine was the dominant culture that unified the populace? It could only be Steelers culture.
Steelers culture is Pittsburgh’s popular culture, and the fans are its primary producers. Often overlooked in discussions of pop culture, much less “high” culture, sports fans are portrayed as immature, uncritical, and passive consumers blindly following a branded product. Whatever It Takes: Steelers Fan Collections, Rituals, and Obsessions looks at the particular and ingenious methods Steelers fans use to construct their own personal and social identities in relation to the team, and in the process, create an active community of cultural producers. Through countless fan sites, gameday rituals, costumes, tattoos, videos, unlicensed merchandise, and more, Steelers fans brilliantly remix and meld the team’s identity with their own. Take Jim Shearer’s weekly, low-budget Web-show, Yinz Luv ‘Da Stillers, whose new season of episodes will be screened in the gallery. Shearer produces the entire show from his bedroom using homemade props and a remarkably clever remix of footage from the week’s game, popular movies, homemade puppets, hand-painted cutouts, and his own engaging persona. His show takes the basic conventions of a major network post-game telecast and reinvents it as a platform for his idiosyncratic creativity and earnest fandom. This do-it-yourself ethos of many Steelers fans reflects larger pop cultural trends in which enthusiasts of TV shows, bands, and movies build fan communities that create their own narratives and aesthetics out of the objects of their passion.
Of course not all Steelers fans produce a weekly Web show—many simply relate to the team by quietly performing gameday rituals in the privacy of home. Most are fairly common, but there is a more intricate and obsessive form of ritual, such as setting aside 62 minutes to kiss every Steelers item in the house prior to kick-off; following the offense on one TV set and the defense on another; watching the game alone with a painted face; wearing a Terrible Towel throughout the day, even in the shower; defeating that day’s opponent on PlayStation football right before the game; or reciting a customized Lord’s Prayer that cites the Steelers’ owner and the opposing team to be vanquished. And most of these examples are from Steelers fans living outside of Pennsylvania. The Steeler Nation is vast, existing in every American state and at least 27 countries, including over 2,000 self-proclaimed Steelers bars and fan clubs worldwide.
What could cause such intense obsession and devotion? In the 1970s, the fall of the steel industry coincided with the rise of the Steelers football team, generating a perfect storm for the development of a die-hard Steelers fan base. The team mirrored the values and desires of its working class fans: they were owned by a self-made local family, named after the local industry, and had a relentlessly hard-nosed playing style. As coach Chuck Noll used to say, the team would do “whatever it takes” to win. But most importantly, as the city struggled under mill closures and massive layoffs, forcing an exodus of residents in search of new jobs, the Steelers kept winning championships. The result is a demographically diverse community of fans that crosses lines of race, class, gender, political affiliation, and even city and country. "We don't just have fans,” offensive tackle Max Starks explains. “It's bigger than that. It's a devotion. Like a child with its parent.” Even in death, some choose to be remembered foremost as a Steelers fan. Rather than use a traditional casket at the wake, one family decided that their loved one would be last viewed as he would have been on game day: laid out on a recliner, dressed in black and gold, with a beer at his side and remote control in hand, watching a continuous loop of Steelers highlights on a TV set.
A common way fans bridge the gap between team and self is by collecting team-related merchandise and signed memorabilia. What’s interesting about many Steelers fans is that they often take collecting a step further: Shawn Spinda has over 100 signed footballs; the Pittsburgh Sports and Mini Ponies blog details “Great Moments in Unlicensed Pittsburgh Sports Merch”; Denny DeLuca transformed his basement into a Steelers Room (moved in its entirety into the gallery for this exhibition) crammed floor to ceiling with hundreds of handmade and altered objects, each with its own story that describes both the biography of the team and Denny’s autobiography. Other fans dedicate their bodies to expressing their allegiance. For instance, Ron Vergerio has spent the past eight years tattooing his entire torso with a stream-of-consciousness mural of players, plays, trophies, the cigar-smoking team owner, and a stadium full of fans, all intermingled with the Pittsburgh skyline and flowing hot metal.
Whatever It Takes: Steelers Fan Collections, Rituals, and Obsessions presents the participatory popular culture of Steelers fandom. The exhibition, a first of its kind, focuses not on fans as consumers, but on fans as producers—a creative force that modifies dominant culture into something much more personal, and collectively creates the Steeler Nation.
Feb. 6, Sun.
6pm: Whatever It Takes Super Bowl Party & Closing Reception
Snacks & beverages provided. Sponsored by Iron City Brewing Company.
Event is free. 21 and over only.
Sept. 10, Fri.
5pm: Tour of Steelers Room by Denny DeLuca
6-8pm: The Immaculate Reception
sponsored by Iron City Brewing Company