Phipps recommends:
Cornelian Cherry Dogwood



As a sculptor, Dee Briggs works primarily with carbon and Cor-ten steel, aluminum, bronze and concrete. She is currently constructing a large-scale, ceiling mounted sculpture for the Center for Sustainable Landscapes (CSL). Featuring highly ordered geometric forms which will cascade through all three floors of the CSL atrium, the installation will create an unexpected rhythmic space containing limitless perceptual contradictions: three-dimensional patterns that are at once familiar and foreign, heavy forms that imply weightlessness, and delightful spatial experiences. We took a few minutes with Dee to discuss this exciting new installation, which visitors can expect to see this summer.

How did you first become interested in sculpting?  

In 1999, while in graduate school studying architecture, I was asked to explore building materials at a human scale using my hands – that was really the beginning.

What mediums do you work in?  

I’m interested in all materials but tend toward material used in the building industry, like steel, aluminum and concrete.  

Where do you get the inspiration for your sculptures?  

It depends on the type of work. You can pretty neatly divide my work into formal/spatial or social/political. The formal/spatial work is inspired to a large degree by geometry and this is how I would describe the piece I’m making for the CSL atrium. The social/political work is always inspired by the situation or context.

Can you describe the concept of the piece you are creating for the CSL?

The ideas, or concepts, I have been dealing with and exploring in my work are based in mathematics, architecture and experience. I am particularly interested in geometry, symmetry and rhythm – line, plane and volume – visual perception and spatial understanding.

Much of my work to date has grown out of a specific obsession with chirality (a property of asymmetry), or handedness. This is the governing principle in the CSL sculpture. Three-dimensional objects that are chiral do not have an internal plane of symmetry and can be mirrored three dimensionally, but the left and right cannot be superimposed. Chirality is a very common characteristic in many areas of chemistry and biology. It describes parts (left and right) of the human body, like our hands. Using very simple geometric forms – in this case circles – I apply this more complex operation of symmetry and create the components and compositions of my work.

The CSL project is site specific, incorporating elements of light and movement, allowing me to create a dialogue with the architectural context and a powerful human experience as the work becomes experiential as visitors move up and down the atrium staircase.

What impact do you hope your piece has on CSL visitors?

I hope that it will excite and intrigue them and encourage visitors of all ages to think about nature’s many complex systems. 

Photo © Natalia Gomez

Other Featured Exhibits & Events

Three More Nights of Winter Lights
Jan. 30, 2015; 5 – 11 p.m.
Feb. 6 and 13, 2015; 5 – 10 p.m.
Take one more walk through the dazzling light displays in our Outdoor and Children’s Discovery Gardens while our indoor spaces transform for the Orchid and Tropical Bonsai Show.
Orchid and Tropical Bonsai Show
Jan. 17 – March 1, 2015
Chase away the winter blues with the spectacular sight of orchid specimens arranged in beds and baskets, and see unique selections from our permanent collection of tropical bonsai.
Tropical Sundays
Sundays, Feb 1, 8, 15 and 22, 2015
Wear a tropical shirt and receive 50 percent off admission to relax under the palm trees, sway to music of Matthew Mazza and Carmen Bruno of the Tropical Sands Steel Band, and taste tropical fruit.
Biophilia: Pittsburgh
Next Meeting Feb. 5, 2015
6 p.m., with networking and refreshments at 5:30 p.m.
Biophilia: Pittsburgh is the pilot chapter for a Biophilia Network of creative minds meeting monthly to discuss strengthening the bond between people and the natural world through education, discussion and action. Meetings are free to attend; advance RSVP is required. Join the conversation!
Tropical Forest Congo
Opens Feb. 7, 2015
The beauty of the tropics flourishes as we unveil Tropical Forest Congo, a new exhibit featuring some of Africa’s lushest landscapes. See varieties of flora never before showcased at Phipps and discover how indigenous tribes use plants to sustain and enrich their lives.
Tropical Forest Congo Opening Festival
Feb. 7, 2015
11 a.m. – 4 p.m.
Be among the first to see our new Tropical Forest Congo exhibit as our guest at a special opening celebration. Family-friendly activities include a storytelling performance, African-inspired food sampling, cultural crafts and a pot-a-plant station — all free with Phipps admission.
Party in the Tropics
Select Fridays
Next Party Feb. 13, 2015
7 – 11 p.m.
Ages 21+
Gather your friends and get ready to dine, drink and dance the night away at Phipps! Make our paradise your own as you indulge in sweet and savory morsels, taste unique cocktails, and dance to the beats of a live DJ in our Tropical Forest Conservatory. Entry is free with Conservatory admission.
Hothouse Happy Hours
Thursday, Feb. 19, 2015
6 – 8 p.m.
Join us on Feb. 19 as we partner with the Pittsburgh Urban Magnet Project (PUMP) to kick off Hothouse Happy Hours, a series of events for young professionals, featuring specialty cocktails, beer and wine, inspired bites and dynamic special guests.
Seed, Perennial and Seedling Swap: 2015 Garden Season Opener
Feb. 28, 2015
11 a.m. – 2 p.m.
Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh - Main
Join Phipps and Grow Pittsburgh at Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh in Oakland to swap seeds and plants, learn tips and get ready for a great season of gardening. Bring seeds you saved from last year and take home an exciting selection to grow in your garden this year. Admission is free to the public.
Garden Railroad
Closes March 1, 2015
A unique twist on the traditional Garden Railroad, this year's display takes you back in time to the California Gold Rush — complete with water features, interactive buttons for children to push, and miniature living plants.