yti poster

1Download: Your Town, Inc., exhibition poster

flickrPhotos on Flickr

NPR interview with artist

docBig Box Reuse Book

docE-News Nov. 2008

Press Resources

Media Contact: Margaret Cox,


Michigan Live, "Exhibition at Western Michigan University looks at urban landscapes, reuse of abandoned buildings'" by Rebecca Bakken, Feb. 14, 2010

The New York Times: "The artist Julia Christensen began documenting what happens to dead big-box stores in 2003, chronicling a variety of examples at," Rob Walker, "Repurpose-Driven Life," The New York Times, June 2009

Eleventh Stack, "Big Boxes" Lisa, Sept. 15, 2008

Pop City Media, "Big Box Redux: Your Town, Inc. opens with BBQ bash at Carnegie Mellon's Miller Gallery,"Sept. 15, 2008

Tartan, CMU, "Your Town, Inc. at the Miller Gallery displays the need for eco-friendly construction," Shweta Suresh, Pillbox, Sept. 8, 2008

Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, "Artist Looks at the Re-use of Former Retail Sites," Kurt Shaw, Sept. 7, 2008

Pittsburgh City Paper, "A new art exhibition looks at life after retail for abandoned big-box stores," Charles Rosenblum, Sept. 4, 2008

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, "Art Preview: Artist shows how communities are reusing big box stores," Patricia Lowry, Sept. 3, 2008

Rhizome: "Exploring Big Boxes, In and Out of the White Cube," Rhizome, Sept. 3, 2008

Yinz Got Art 'n' At, "ReBoxed: Finding God in a Wal-Mart," Jacob Spears, Yinz Got Art 'n' At, Aug. 29, 2008

1download scan

Pittsburgh City Paper
: "The Miller Gallery's internationally renowned new curator, Astria Suparak, debuts her first Pittsburgh show," Bill O'Driscoll, Pittsburgh City Paper, Aug. 28, 2008

USA Today: "Towns recycle abandoned stores," Haya El Nasser, USA Today, Aug. 26, 2008



Past Exhibition

1 Spam Museum, renovated Kmart building, Austin Minnesota by J. Christensen
1UnBox, Your Town, Inc.exhibition
1 Your Town, Inc.exhibition
1Your Town, Inc. exhibition
1Collapsible tunnel of UnBox, Your Town, Inc.exhibition
Big Box Reuse photos courtesy: Julia Christensen

Credit all exhibition photos as: "Your Town, Inc., Miller Gallery at Carnegie Mellon University. Tom Little photography."



Big Box Reuse with Julia Christensen

Curated by Astria Suparak


Big box buildings have increasingly dominated the American landscape since the 1960s. Author, artist, and researcher Julia Christensen spent the last six years studying these monolithic, free-standing structures and their resulting effects on our culture. In Your Town, Inc., photographs and new installation work examine how communities are changing in the shadow of corporate real estate.

Seventy-seven photographs from Christensen’s critically acclaimed book, Big Box Reuse (MIT Press, 2008), illustrate the ways in which communities throughout the United States creatively re-employ the structures constructed and abandoned by multinational corporations, such as Wal-Mart and Kmart. Resulting endeavors include: justice center, megachurch, senior resource center, elementary school, and flea market.

For Your Town, Inc., Christensen fabricated a sculptural construction that is a reaction and response to the big box concept. Her UnBox (2008) demonstrates values and conventions opposed to the superstore sort: it is modular, transportable, easily reusable, and made of regional and recycled materials.  Furthermore, UnBox will be activated for creative and social uses, rather than retail purposes, by various local groups who can propose events to take place within this new facility.  The installation can enable discussion about urgent issues such as sustainability, user-friendliness, and reusability.

Across the floor of the gallery an actual-sized parking lot will be painted to local city code. The lot raises questions about the infrastructural aspect of our lifestyles–particularly, the auto-centricity of our culture.

Your Town, Inc. is an exhibition that explores the state of our built environment. Among Christensen’s photographs of reworked big box buildings, the UnBox structure, and the parking lot setting, the audience will be asked to think critically about how their own town has changed in light of corporate real estate. And ultimately, the question will be posed: how can you reclaim power over the design of your town’s future?

Your Town, Inc. is organized by the Miller Gallery at Carnegie Mellon University, in connection with the release of the artist’s book with MIT Press. The Carnegie Mellon Office of the Vice-Provost and the School of Art Lecture Series have provided assistance for the Big Box Reuse presentation.


Julia Christensen’s work has been featured in the New York Times, the Globe and Mail, Preservation Magazine for the National Trust, and other publications; her new media, video and installation work has shown recently at the Lincoln Center, DUMBO Arts Center, and the Walker Art Center, Carnegie Museum of Art, and Yale School of Architecture Galleries. Her book, Big Box Reuse, was published by MIT Press in 2008. She holds the chair of Luce Visiting Professor of the Emerging Arts at Oberlin, where she teaches in the Studio Arts and TIMARA (Technology in Music and Related Arts) Departments. She has also taught at Stanford University and California College of the Arts.


Sept. 19, Fri.
Hometown BBQ Reception

Nov. 13, Thurs.
Carnegie Mellon University Lecture Series: Big Box Reuse Presentation
+ Book Signing

Oct. 2, Thurs.
Unbox Event:

Oct. 28, Tues.
Unbox Event:
"From Cellar to Attic", video installation by Ian Warren


· Worlds Away: New Suburban Landscapes: Carnegie Museum of Art,
  Oct. 2008–Jan. 2009

· Society for Photographic Education: Mid-Atlantic Conference, Nov. 7-9, 2008


· Architecture: Urban Planning, Landscape Architecture
· Art: Photo, Sculpture
· Design
· Environmental Studies
· Humanities: American Studies, Cultural Studies, Popular Culture

Tour Schedule

Aug. 29 – Nov. 23, 2008
Miller Gallery at Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh, PA

Feb. 25 – Mar. 19, 2010
Richmond Center for Visual Arts, Western Michigan University
, Kalamazoo, MI