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  • January 2020
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Teen Media Awards

On Wednesday, August 14, 2013, Library staff and community members gathered to honor the creative works of Pittsburgh teens at the 3rd annual Teen Media Awards! Winners of the Ralph Munn Creative Writing Contest and TheLabs “Labsy” Awards shared their writing and creative arts with a packed theater!

Teen Media Awards 2013 @ Carnegie Museum of Art Theater

Teen Media Awards 2013 @ Carnegie Museum of Art Theater

Keynote speaker Shioban Vivian started off the evening with an inspiring (and comical) talk about following your dreams and always striving to be creative and hard working. See below for winners and photos from this very special night in Pittsburgh!


Keynote Speaker: Siobhan Vivian

Ralph Munn Creative Writing Contest

1st Place: “A or a” by Rose Swanson
2nd Place: “Hospitalia” by Agatha Monasterios – Ramirez

Short Prose
1st Place: “Bishop and Wash” by Lana Meyer
2nd Place: “Veteran Advice” by Kristen Grom

Screen Writing
1st Place: “cHaos before hArmony” by Justen Turner-Thorne
2nd Place: “On the End of Every Fork” by Tyler Hudson

Labsy Awards

1st Place:Tanzania” by Olivia Muse
Honorable Mentions: “Flagpole” by Morgan Wable-Keene, “Downtown” by Raven

1st Place:Chronology Poster” by Morgan Wable-Keene
Honorable Mentions: “Submission 2” by Sarah Watkins, “Drawing 1” by Lexi Hall

1st Place:Short Jam” by David Watkins
Honorable Mentions: “Midas Theme” by Morgan Wable-Keene

Maker’s Studio
1st Place:Space Intruder” by Morgan Wable-Keene
Honorable Mentions: “Speaker” by Ceu Gomez Faulk, “Glam-o-Tron” by Joshalyn and Cassidy

1st Place:Hat Chasers” by Simone Traub, Julian Edwards, Ashae Shaw, Umoja Shaw, Trayvon Ramsey, Jayla Ramsey, and Caliyha Hogan
Honorable Mentions: “Midas” by Cody, Morgan, Sarah, Philppa, Pascal, Kayla, and Pei Pei, “Electric Twist” by Kate Philipps, Hannah Philipps, Tessa Twyman, and Mae Twyman

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For more photos from the Teen Media Awards click here or here or here.

The 2014 Teen Media Awards are just around the corner. If you are a budding writer, photographer, filmmaker, designer, creative-extraordinaire in Pittsburgh or Allegheny County, get started on your work today!

Looks for details on the Ralph Munn Creative Writing Contest in spring 2014 and visit The Labs at Main, East Liberty, Southside, and Allegheny to start working on your designs, photography, and more!

The Look: Blogs to Books

Blogs are cool. Clothes are just fun. So is photography. That’s what this blog post is about.

A few years ago I stumbled upon a blog called The Sartorialist. Fashion photographer Scott Schuman sees fashion as a form of self-expression. After years of working in the fashion industry in New York, he felt there was a disconnect between runway fashion and what real people were actually wearing. He started to take photographs of people on the street – Just regular people rocking a unique look. He started the blog and began to travel the world taking photographs of REAL people of all ages, shapes, ethnicities and gender expressions. Some of his best photos are now available in a book!

the sartorialist

The Facehunter is photo fashion blog by photographer Yvan Rodic. Same idea: Real people with unique style. The blog is now also a book!


My personal philosophy is that no matter your age, ethnicity, body type, or gender/gender expession you can find a look and clothes that are unique to you. Fashion should be less about fitting in and more about standing out. Check out some of the books the library has on fashion, custom sneakers, learning photography, deconstructed t-shirts, working in the fashion industry and creating your own style.

the teen vogue handbook fashion 101 generation T beyond fashion custom kicks photography in fashion tomboy style seventeen ultimate guide to style

Happy reading!

Michael (CLP Hazelwood)

Pittsburgh: haunted by historical photographs and documentary poetry!!

Have you ever taken a walk down a Pittsburgh street and wondered what wonderful or terrible things may have happened there in years past?  There’s a way to maybe find out.

crazy clown time

Go to Retrographer to see the past overlaid upon the present.  There, over 5,000 historic images of Pittsburgh have been tagged to the locations at which they were taken.  You can see that in 1935, there was a particularly scary Halloween Party  happening in front of the fountain at the Frick Fine Arts building (read: clowns) and that trolley car tracks used to criss-cross Centre Street.  You can check out how bustling East Liberty looked in 1928, and a road crew working in Homewood, around 1910, looking towards some very familiar rowhouses on Hamilton Ave. that I drive past almost every day of my life.

Or maybe you’d like to take a walk and read poems about the streets on which you’re wandering?  Then get yourself over to Public Record, a project done in 2010-11 by Justin Hopper in connection with Encyclopedia Destructica and Deeplocal.

Hopper uses poetry to expose history.  You can download an iPhone app that will show you a map of Pittsburgh and the locations that correspond to the poems, written about what daily life was like in 19th century Pittsburgh.  Or you can download the MP3s for free.

I hope these sites will inspire you to go create your own Pittsburgh-centered creative works.  Find some history there, at the library, or the Heinz History Center Archives, and make it your own. Submit it to the Ralph Munn Creative Writing Contest. Record it in words, film or music at the Labs.   Find the cutest historical boy from Historic Pittsburgh and send the link to My Daguerreotype Boyfriend.

Happy exploring,

-Tessa, CLP-East Liberty

Staring at people through history. It’s not rude if they can’t see you.

One of my favorite tumblrs (apart from the CLP Teens – Main tumblr, ahem) is Of Another Fashion. Its subtitle is: An alternative archive of the not-quite-hidden but too often ignored fashion histories of U.S. women of color. Not only is it cool that a tumblr has a subtitle, it is also very cool that these photographs, stories, and articles are being collected and digitized to reach our eyes and brains.  It’s an offshoot of a project of Minh-Ha T. Pham, who also writes at the blog Threadbared, which talks about the politics (among other things) behind the common representations of fashion and beauty.

It’s always exciting to me to see the stories and, if possible, pictures of people who wouldn’t always get a chance to surface in the public after their personal history is over. In some cases these are people who should be mentioned in history books, and in some cases they’re just normal ladies like you and me, living their lives and having their own style.  I love those glimpses into other people’s lives. (I also check out how people have decorated their houses if their windows are illuminated at night. I’m nebby.)

For example, here’s one of the amazing librarian photos from Of Another Fashion (used via a Creative Commons License):

“Lucille Baldwin Brown was the first Black public county librarian in Tallahassee, Florida. This photograph is part of the collection at the State Library and Archives of Florida.”

It’s so easy to get lost in digital archives, like Historic Pittsburgh, the NYPL Digital Gallery and so many more. It’s really the best form of time travel I know.  All the better that tumblrs like Of Another Fashion are giving us better, fuller ways to see history and the people’s lives that may not have been documented and celebrated so publicly before.

Don’t forget about the library’s collection of books of portrait photography.

– Tessa, CLP- East Liberty

Picture Book: Kodak, Instagram, and the Future of Photography

Photo by Wikipedia user camerafiend.

Earlier this month, Eastman Kodak — the film giant that once accounted for 90% of the film sold worldwide — filed for bankruptcy. Kodak was the big cheese in photography back when everyone still used film in their cameras, but they’ve been outpaced in the digital age; ironic because Kodak pioneered digital photography. (Pioneered the technology, but was unable to capitalize on their creation.)

The whole Kodak thing got me thinking of my first trip to Europe. I was sixteen, and I’d raised money for my travels by going door-to-door in my town, asking for donations and grovelling in front of the school board. Between my stumping (and my saintly parents somehow coming up with the balance) I was soon off to another continent. Continue reading

Digging on a new blog: Spencer Tweedy

Have you heard of Wilco? They’re an indie-rock band with a dedicated following. I’m neutral on their music but feel an affinity for Jeff Tweedy, the singer, because he’s a fellow migraineur.  You can familiarize yourself with them at the Rolling Stone site.


Last week I read an interview with Tweedy’s son, Spencer Tweedy. He’s 14 right now and has a really great blog.

He started it when he was 12.  In the interview he describes his inspiration:

“I got the idea of combining my then-budding love for writing with that of tinkering, and a blog seemed like the perfect thing for that. I had pretty avaricious goals in terms of what it would be (besides an expression outlet). The only things I wrote back then were either for school, or reviews of things. I thought people would read them, and the little Google AdSense box would make me millions. So my initial goal was definitely ‘child entrepreneur.’”

Like any blog worth reading, it’s a mix of links, thoughtful posts, and as a bonus, his photography.  I always love to see teenagers presenting themselves in a clear, critical way outside of the world of school assignments.  

For example, here’s Spencer talking about digital vs. “traditional” media:

“The digital era is changing how we make things and how we consume things. Usually, this is really “where we store things” and “with what we consume things.” It’s all there. It’s just 1’s and 0’s. And that is the scary part. We can relate to real stuff because, surprise: we’re made out of the exact same stuff! That book is a book and I am a person and we are both made out of matter. The particles on the magnetic tape that you recorded the song with that I am listening to on a vinyl record are made out of matter and I am, too. That picture is a bunch of colorful dots made out of matter and so am I. ”

But mostly it’s a lot of great pictures, quotes, and occasional songs from his band.

Check it out, and take the time to express yourself.  Maybe enter a piece of writing in the Ralph Munn Creative Writing Contest for a chance to win money and/or get your work published in a book that will be available to all on our library shelves. The deadline is May 21st.

You can also check out some stuff by/about Wilco, too:

I Am Trying to Break Your Heart: A Film About Wilco

A Ghost is Born

Yankee Hotel Foxtrot (got a perfect rating on Pitchfork)

And more

– Tessa (CLP-East Liberty)

In My Room

The decoration of personal space is very important, especially if you’re a teenager and you only get one room or part of a room in which you can express your personal likes and dislikes through art, bedclothes, paint, small totems, or a giant collection of something or other (makeup, art supplies, Nikes, who knows?)

This is true for guys and girls, but culturally & historically girls have been made to stay at home more and so might be expected to create more detailed worlds.

Marian’s recent post about photography stuck with me as I stopped to view some of the images from photographer Rania Matar‘s recent work:A Girl and Her Room.  It’s a collection of photos of teenage girls in their own space. Matar succinctly describes it as “an area that is theirs, that they can fully control, decorate, trash and be themselves in.”

No matter if the girl is from Dubai or Massachusetts, the rooms share the same urgent sense of containing a person’s whole life and personality.

click to see Rania Matar's portfolio

What does your room say about you?  It could be something to explore in your own photographs.

And don’t forget to explore the library’s collection of photography catalogs. There’s nothing like finding a new artist:

Girl Culture by Lauren Greenfield fearlessly explores the private worlds of girl-ness.

Picture the Girl by Audrey Shehyn Vernick profiles a range of teenage girls, coupled with sharp black and white portraits.

Or, get some decoration inspiration with

Teen Zone: Stylish Living for Teens by Judith Wilson

– Tessa (CLP – East Liberty), whose room growing up had walls that were absolutely collaged without an inch of paint showing.

EDIT: Tavi just blogged about teenage bedrooms on Style Rookie! And provided a link to this tumblr: http://teenagebedroom.tumblr.com/ That’s synchronicity.

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