Tim Kaulen and a group of fellow artists built a sculpture of a giant deer head at the former Carrie Furnace facility in Swissvale two decades ago, they had no idea how iconic it would become.
“At the time it was made, it was not even considered public art,” says Kaulen of the now-famous Carrie Deer, a nearly 45-foot-tall structure made of found objects from the Carrie Furnace site. “It was … renegade art that eventually became public. When we built it originally, the space was secured and locked up.”
To help future generations of artists in the city, Kaulen and his arts outreach program, the Mobile Sculpture Workshop (MSW), created a smaller version of the Carrie Deer: Little Buck, a new 14-foot sculpture available now available for bids on an online auction. Profits from the sculpture’s sale will benefit the Industrial Arts Workshop, a youth arts and workforce development center in Hazelwood.
Valued at around $12,000, Kaulen says the sculpture would make a great piece for private or public display, by an individual buyer, a nonprofit, or a business. He admits that he envisions Littel Buck (a nickname that can be changed by the buyer) outdoors in a yard or garden, accented with natural elements like ivy or creeper plants.
“I’m trying to hedge — no pun intended — the capability to use it as a topiary sculpture,” he says.
Kaulen, along with other artists, teachers, and students from MSW, as well as artists from the original Carrie Deer crew, built Little Buck as a way to leverage "the lure of the urban myth of the Carrie Deer and its symbolic reference" to support and create new arts resources.
The Industrial Arts Workshop will cater to local teens ages 15–18 by helping them develop various skills in workshops led by professional artists, teachers, and metalworkers. There they can learn the basic techniques of welding and metal fabrication, basic design, and engineering through collaborative service-learning projects.
Kaulen also sees Little Buck as a way to pay it forward after being fortunate to work with groups like Rivers of Steel, the local revitalization and preservation group that oversees the Carrie Furnace and includes the Carrie Deer as part of regular tours.
“Our friends at Rivers of Steel have celebrated the original Carrie Deer as a symbol of the time between the productivity of the site and the renewal of the site,” says Kaulen.
Much like the Carrie Deer, Little Buck is made of recycled material, specifically rebar extracted from a demolished parking garage on Penn and Eighth Avenue. Kaulen believes this aspect adds to the sculpture’s appeal.
“[Using recycled materials] creates a continuum of storytelling, because those pieces carry with them an identity and a purpose from something else,” he says.
Little Buck will be on display at the Industrial Arts Workshop through the duration of the online auction, which ends Sun., Dec. 1.