The Almanac
Published Jan 23, 2015 at 9:52 am

Matthew Conboy believes children aren’t getting enough exposure to fine art, so he has reached out to three regional hospitals to provide parents and their newborns the work of professional photographers and artists through 2015.

“Mr. Conboy saw our Steelers and Pirates babies all decked out and thought it would offer a similar opportunity to expose some fine art to a very new audience as well,” said Linda McIntyre, women and children’s services director at the hospital.

“I teach at Robert Morris and Point Park, and I have students telling me they’ve never been to a museum. It’s a foreign concept to them,” said Conboy, a photographer and educator.

Conboy was awarded a $10,000 grant from Crusade for Art to underwrite an educational program, so he pitched to St. Clair Hospital – along with UPMC Mercy and The Midwife Center for Birth & Women’s Health – the “Start with Art” program.

The pieces are provided by six photographers and six artists, each specializing in a style or method.

“February’s piece is a photograph called Mist over the Ohio, a color photo of the river with some low-hanging mist over it,” McIntyre said.

“The pieces will change month to month,” Conboy said, “for instance, February’s will be of a beautiful bird. Then later on in the year you’ll see some abstract art and city landscapes.”

Conboy hopes the art pieces will inspire children, perhaps not as early as toddlers, but later as mementos their parents can remind them about.

“With the museum story, we’re in a region so rich with culture, history and art, it’s important to me to get these students a head start in that regard. By going home with a piece of art, they have a 25-year head start on me – that’s when I bought my first piece of art – and I’m an artist,” he said.

“We would like feedback as well. And on social media. So if parents could reach back on Twitter or Facebook with the hashtag #startwithartpgh, it helps us track what pieces were received well and how to further improve this program.”

For more information, visit www.startwithartpgh.org.

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