Carnegie Mellon University

Miller Gallery Exhibit

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Steelers Fans' Rituals, Obsessions

SuperFan by Lem Apperson, photo by P. Fitzgibbons

Pittsburghers are well known for being passionate about their sports teams. And throughout this year's football season, the creativity of some Steelers fans is on display at The Miller Gallery at Carnegie Mellon University, which presents "Whatever It Takes: Steelers Fan Collections, Rituals, and Obsessions," through Jan. 30, 2011.

Co-curated by CMU professor of art Jon Rubin and Miller Gallery director Astria Suparak, this first-of-its-kind exhibit looks at the ingenious methods Steelers fans use to construct their own personal and social identities in relation to the team.

"Steelers culture is Pittsburgh's popular culture, and the fans are its primary creative force," Rubin said.

"'Whatever It Takes' shows how Steelers fans brilliantly remix and meld the team's identity with their own through game-day rituals, Steelers dens, fan sites, costumes, tattoos, videos, web shows, unlicensed merchandise and more," Suparak said.

The exhibit includes a tour of Denny DeLuca's homemade Steelers Den (Sept. 10 at 5 p.m.), which has been moved in its entirety from his basement into the gallery. The Steelers Den is 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 his autobiography.

A reception follows the tour, aptly titled the "Immaculate Reception" and sponsored by the Iron City Brewery Company. Admission to the exhibition and these events are free and open to the public.

In addition to the Steelers Den, the exhibit will include new episodes of Jim Shearer's weekly, low-budget Web show, "Yinz Luv 'Da Stillers," which is produced entirely from his bedroom, using homemade props, a remarkably clever remix of footage from the previous week's game, popular movies, homemade puppets, hand-painted cutouts and his own engaging persona.

The exhibit also includes slide shows of "Great Moments in Unlicensed Pittsburgh Sports Merch" from the "Pittsburgh Sports and Mini Ponies" blog, and a collection of Steelers-related tattoo photos, including the tattoos on Ron Vergerio, who has spent the past eight years tattooing his entire torso with a mural of players, plays, trophies, the former cigar-smoking team owner and a stadium full of fans, all intermingled with the Pittsburgh skyline and flowing hot metal.

Visitors to the gallery will be able to contribute by re-enacting Franco Harris' famous catch and becoming part of the unforgettable "Immaculate Reception" footage, video-chatting live with patrons in a Steelers bar in Rome, and having their Steelers tattoo photographed and added to the exhibit's growing display.

Admission to the Miller Gallery at Carnegie Mellon is free and open to the public from noon to 6 p.m., Tuesday through Sunday.

Pictured: SuperFan by Lem Apperson, photo by P. Fitzgibbons, on display at Carnegie Mellon's Miller Gallery through Jan. 30, 2011

Related Links: Miller Gallery  |  View Photos on Flickr