Art or vandalism? Ria's response spans a Cathedral wall.

A CREaTE Fellowship project

“I want to inspire a discussion on an internal debate I have, which is ‘what is art?’ Is it sticking to classic techniques? Is it something completely innovative and freestyle that you've created? Is it a mixture of both?”

The scene

“I think art is inspired by internal debates.”

The Sixth Street Bridge was one of Ria’s first ventures into the city as a freshman. Along the way, she noticed the graffiti and other art styles.

“It sparked that internal conflict between all the techniques I've learned as an artist, and the amazement and admiration I have for these freestyle artists who innovate new techniques.”


“I went day by day, by the eye, especially for the buildings. That was probably my most challenging venture, because I wanted a more abstract look, not necessarily photorealism.

“I know some people have said it kind of has this flowy, melting quality of a skyline.”


“When I first painted the clouds, they looked horrible. And I couldn't figure out why, because I painted what I thought clouds looked like. I was overthinking them, trying to draw a cloud like a child would.”

She put her neuroscience background to work.

“I used upside-down drawing, where you turn it around so it no longer looks like anything, just a bunch of shapes and lines. That way, you’re using the more creative left side of your brain, just trying to emulate the curves and the shadows that you see, rather than your intellectual analyzation from your past experiences.”


“I love using experimental brushes, because you can only use it in this large-scale.

“This road was a challenge. I had to use huge brushes to have these huge sweeping motions to smooth it out. It used my whole body. It really was a workout."


“There’s a lot of beautiful street art that doesn’t really have a home in Pittsburgh. I realize sometimes it’s destructive, but I think there are artists out there that don’t have an outlet.

There’s a secret message there: art or vandalism?

"I hope students who leave the workshop will have that same discussion, as I have, on this same bridge.”


Have a creative idea of your own? 

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