Friends in Art

Friends in Art

[l-r] Leslie Golomb, Michelle Browne. Photo by Polly Whitehorn

When Michelle Browne (A'75) arrived at her freshman dorm at Carnegie Mellon University, the first person she met was dorm mate Leslie A. Golomb (A'75).

What she didn't know was that over 40 years later, they would still be friends and creating art.

As a student, Golomb found herself drawn to printmaking. "I loved the idea of process," she said. "Every time you pull a print, it is a surprise."

Browne also found herself experimenting with screen printing. "The color really spoke to me," she said.

After graduation they worked for the Citiparks Roving Art Cart. Browne said she learned the hard way to keep an eye on what art materials she handed out to children.

"The boys grabbed dowel rods, hammers and nails, and I realized they were attempting to make nunchucks," Browne said.

Browne continued to teach art in museums in Pittsburgh as Golomb went to grad school and found herself interested in the business of art. Golomb worked at the Jewish Community Center of Greater Pittsburgh and founded the American Jewish Museum.

In 2004, Golomb invited Browne to a printmaking workshop in Italy. It was the first time either of them had traveled to Europe. For two weeks, they lived on an organic farm and studied printmaking.

"It was a jump-start to get back into serious art," Golomb said.

They returned to Pittsburgh and rented a space at Artists Image Resource on the North Side. One day Golomb had an idea about a collaborative piece to submit to the Fiberart International exhibition.

Golomb had been exploring the vulnerability of children in her art. Both women are mothers, and the subject spoke to them. Golomb found an anonymous photo of a girl from the web to start the collaboration.

"We named the first girl Betsy," Browne said. "We developed a story about her — did she have siblings?"

As they started developing their collaborative process, they headed back to CMU, listening to artist lectures and admiring new street-art styles.

They started working with block prints, then digitally enlarged images on silk screens. The girls' images were altered and layered on fabrics then given to a quilter.

Their work won second place from the Fiberart International committee in 2010.

They have continued the series, and the works have been shown in Rochester, N.Y., San Francisco and Pittsburgh.

Golomb and Browne's admiration of young contemporary art reminded them of their own time at CMU, and it inspired them to give back. They created a joint four-year art scholarship.

"It was in honor of what CMU was able to do for us," Golomb said.

Scholarships from alumni are both a valuable and meaningful way to support the university.

"It is powerful when two people who have shared their experience support the institution that helped make them successful over time," said Andrew Shaindlin, associate vice president for Alumni Relations and Annual Giving.

Related Links: College of Fine Arts | School of Art

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