M.J. Farkas credits the Industrial Arts Co-op with changing his life.
Growing up poor in Appalachia, he welded old cars out of necessity, never thinking it could turn into a career.
But when he heard about the Industrial Arts Co-op’s Mobile Sculpture Workshop, Farkas enrolled. The roving, summer-long initiative taught him and nine other high school students welding techniques and metalwork through the creation of public art.
Sparks flew in nearly a dozen city neighborhoods, from Millvale to Shadyside.
Now, several years later, the 19-year-old has a good job with a railroad company and owns a house in Pittsburgh.
“I have a pretty nice set up through welding,” Farkas says.
Tim Kaulen, founder of the Industrial Arts Co-op, is looking to generate more success stories by opening the Industrial Arts Workshop, a year-round, youth-based art and workforce development facility in Hazelwood. After seeing the success of the Mobile Sculpture Workshop — which, for five years, served as a pilot program for the larger endeavor — he knew it was time to put down roots.
With help from the Hazelwood Initiative, the organization that purchased the building on Herbert Way where the Mobile Sculpture Workshop will operate, Kaulen’s dream is becoming a reality.
When it opens next September, the 5,000-square-foot space will have a new roof and restrooms, a ventilation system, garage doors and 10 training booths where welding apprentices ages 15…