Students Publish "Confessions From Pittsburgh"
“We repaired the sidewalk outside of the building where the two of us worked,” Anonymous wrote. “A year later, crews came in and replaced the sidewalk. I tried to save this piece of it, the piece that held our initials. But his were lost.”
Stories like this one have been collected and documented by Carnegie Mellon University students. English Professor Jane Bernstein’s class spent this semester seeking out stories of loss from locals and putting their narratives on paper, while keeping track of their own emotional journeys. Soon, their thoughts and the tales of heartbroken Pittsburghers will be published in “Confessions from Pittsburgh.”
Bernstein’s students began by collecting stories and items of severed relationships from fellow Pittsburghers to fill a December exhibit, the Museum of Broken Relationships.
The collection process closed in mid-October, and items have since been transferred to the Entertainment Technology Center for the arrangement of the exhibit. Students who spent the first half of the semester collecting items are now focusing on how to create permanence of the museum.
“When I was planning the course, I felt strongly that the students should produce something tangible that would exist after the exhibit was taken down,” Bernstein said.
And so, the students are close to becoming published authors.
The book will contain essays written by the students about the emotional ups and downs of the museum process as well as images of each collected object and the museum. An editorial group in the class is editing the journals and selecting which ones best tell the story of the museum.
“My personal ultimate goal in publishing this book is to create an archive of this incredible process,” said Dani Joseph, junior drama student. “This is something that's completely unique to me and my experience and I think it can really teach other students in the future how to be self-motivated and caring in their approach to their work.”
The students are also creating the artwork for the book cover. Junior English major Joshua Brown is head of the committee and said it’s important to convey the multiple layers of the class through this cover.
“Our idea was that those two photos would function as one, to examine the duality of the process—one of pain and one of cleansing,” Brown said.
Print copies will be available starting mid-December to students and contributors of the museum.
The Museum of Broken Relationships Pittsburgh will open Dec. 2 at 5 p.m. at The Mine Factory and will run through Dec. 30. This exhibit is in collaboration with the original museum in Zagreb, Croatia. The founders of the Museum of Broken Relationships, Olinka Vištica and Dražen Grubišić, will travel to Pittsburgh for the opening, and to speak with the CMU community about the exhibit on Thursday, Dec. 1 at 4:30 p.m. in the Giant Eagle Auditorium.
By Stefanie Johndrow
Top Photo: A piece of concrete that was donated to the Museum of Broken Relationships Pittsburgh with the contributor's initials.
Right Photo: A possible cover for the book "Confessions from Pittsburgh." Courtesy of Joshua Brown.