Look Up! 200 Kites Crashed into 80 Trees in Cultural District

New Public Art Commissioned by the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust

April 19, 2024

Look Up! The Pittsburgh Cultural Trust Announces a New Outdoor
Public Art Commission “Reconnecting Visitors with Their Inner Child”

A Sudden Gust of Wind by Lenka Clayton and Phillip Andrew Lewis
depicts 200 kites crashed and trapped in over 80 trees in the Cultural District

April 26, 2024 – March 31, 2025
Installation now in progress on Liberty & Penn Avenues between 6th & 9th Streets


The Pittsburgh Cultural Trust commissioned Pittsburgh-based and internationally renowned artists Lenka Clayton and Phillip Andrew Lewis for a large-scale public art installation in the Cultural District titled A Sudden Gust of Wind. Now being installed, and scheduled to be completed next week, the installation features 200 multi-colored kite-shaped aluminum sculptures that appear to be accidentally lodged in the branches of downtown trees.

Anastasia James, Director of Galleries and Public Art for the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust states, “Lenka Clayton and Philip Andrew Lewis are some of the most significant contemporary artists living and working in Pittsburgh. We are thrilled to commission this joyful public art project that encourages audience members of all ages to reconnect with their inner child.”

The aluminum kite sculptures appear to be crumpled. Their fabric tails are animated by the weather, tangling over time within the branches. The artworks, designed to be unsuspectingly discovered rather than pointed out, invite visitors to consider themselves attuned to the material remains of life’s idiosyncrasies. The kites can be interpreted as a colorful aftermath of a celebratory event—a kite festival gone wrong or a “sudden gust of wind” that broke the string tethering a kite to its owner.

With irreverence and humor, Clayton and Lewis explore the interconnectivity and tension within the human-nature relationship. The colorful, tragi-comic kite sculptures that comprise this large-scale public artwork express the amusement and creativity that kites symbolize as well as the sense of disappointment when they cease to function.

Public Programs

Multiple public programs will be presented by the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust during the exhibition’s run. Initial events include:

Guests attending The Kite Runner on the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust’s 2023-2024 PNC Broadway in Pittsburgh season, May 7-12, may also sense a poignant connection between the simultaneous Cultural District presentations.


About the Artists:

Lenka Clayton is an interdisciplinary artist whose work exaggerates and alters the accepted rules of everyday life, extending the familiar into the realms of the poetic and absurd. Recent exhibitions include Rising Sun (2023) at Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts in Philadelphia, Day Jobs (2023) at the Blanton Museum of Art, To Begin Again (2022) at ICA Boston, The Carnegie International 57th Ed. (2018) at the Carnegie Museum of Art in Pittsburgh, Object Temporarily Removed (2017) at The Fabric Workshop and Museum in Philadelphia, Apollo’s Muse (2019) at The Metropolitan Museum of Art NY and The Grand Illusion, at the Lyon Biennial, France (2020). In 2017 the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum commissioned a major new work by Clayton and collaborator Jon Rubin, entitled A talking parrot, a high school drama class, a Punjabi TV show, the oldest song in the world, a museum artwork, and a congregation’s call to action circle through New York. With the participation of six diverse venues around New York City, the artists arranged for an essential element from each site—referenced in the project’s title—to circulate from one place to the next, creating a six-month network of social and material exchange.

Clayton’s work has been supported by The Warhol Foundation and The National Endowment for the Arts. She has received an Art Matters Award, a Carol R. Brown Award for Creative Achievement, and a Creative Development Grant from Heinz/Pittsburgh Foundation. She has been artist-in-residence at The Fabric Workshop and Museum, PA and Headlands Center for the Arts, CA and was a Sabrina Merage Fellow with Black Cube Nomadic Art Museum. Clayton’s work is held in the permanent collections of The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, SFMoMA in California, Hamburger Kunsthalle in Germany, Mount Holyoke College Art Museum in Massachusetts, The Carnegie Museum of Art, The Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Art and The Philadelphia Museum of Art in Pennsylvania.  Permanent public artworks include Darkhouse Lighthouse, and Historic Site, both made with collaborator Phillip Andrew Lewis. Clayton is represented by Catherine Clark Gallery, San Francisco.

Phillip Andrew Lewis (b.1973, lives and works in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania) is an interdisciplinary artist who works in a variety of media including photography, video objects, and sound. His creative research often responds to historical events, psychology, and phenomenology. This work consistently examines duration, perceptual limits and attentive observation. Lewis is actively involved in collaboration with artists and various groups. Phillip has exhibited his work both nationally and internationally. He received a 2012 Creative Capital Grant in Visual Art for his ongoing long-term project entitled SYNONYM. He has also received generous support for his research from Black Cube, Headlands Center for the Arts, Culture and Animals Foundation, Center for Creative Photography, Foundation for Contemporary Art in New York, Fathomers, Bemis Center for Contemporary Art, Midway Contemporary Arts Fund, Tennessee Arts Commission, University of Tennessee, Urban Arts Commission, The Heinz Endowments, The Pittsburgh Foundation, and Sabrina Merage Foundation. He is a tenured full professor at The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. In collaboration with his wife, Lenka Clayton, he runs a project space in Pittsburgh called Gallery Closed which is open 24/7 via two street facing windows.