Pittsburgh Artist Registry

John Peña

John Peña

Artistic Category Artist
Career Level Emerging
Experienced With Commissions, Collaboration, For-hire services, Leading workshops, Lectures, Public art, Speaking engagements, Teaching engagements

I am a multidisciplinary artist who makes art as a way of understanding my internal and external environments. I frequently engage with the natural world in my art making to create poetic and magical moments that reveal the subtle relationships between humans and nature. Other times, I communicate deeply personal thoughts and sentiments through my art, with hopes that these experiences might resonate with others. The products of these explorations are absurd, humorous, and minute gestures that move between public and private spaces and exist in both monumental and intimate scales.

When making public art or community-engaged projects, I often collaborate with participants, community members, businesses, and stakeholders. I have found that in a collaborative environment my ideas can grow and change in exciting and unexpected ways. When working alone, I move quickly from idea to execution. But in a collaborative context, I am challenged to communicate my ideas and artistic process with others. In doing so, my normal methods are paused, giving way to new perspectives that can enrich my art making through the discovery of unforeseen ideas.

Nature, play, and connectivity are all at the heart of my art making and in a public art context, I use these subjects to create opportunities for audience participation. In the past, I have asked people to help me send a cloud through the mail, encouraged viewers to create a nature scene at a Children’s Museum, and invited participants to insert themselves into my works via social media. Each of these projects asked people to directly engage in order to fully activate the artwork. In this way, audience participation is an integral component that ultimately brings the artwork to fruition.

John Peña is a multidisciplinary artist, illustrator and educator from the desert of Washington State. He makes art as a way of exploring the natural world and his daily interactions. A few of John’s projects include: racing with clouds, sending a letter to the Pacific Ocean every day for the last twelve years, making daily drawings about his life and constructing large-scale plaster word balloons that are precariously balanced on two by fours. John has attended a number of residencies including The Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture, The Bemis Center for Contemporary Art & The Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown, MA. He has exhibited artworks at The Mattress Factory Museum in Pittsburgh, Kevin Kavanaugh Gallery in Dublin, Kate Werble Gallery in New York City, and The Bumbershoot Arts Festival in Seattle, WA. He currently lives and works in Pittsburgh, PA. 


Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 15221

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  • Drawing
  • Illustration
  • Installation
  • Mixed-media
  • Painting
  • Photography
  • Public Art
  • Sculpture
  • Social Practice / Civic Engagement
  • Video


  • Black & white
  • Cartoon
  • Comic
  • Conceptual
  • Experimental
  • Graphic Novel
  • Graphite
  • Land/earth
  • Landscape
  • Mural
  • Narrative
  • Nature
  • New media
  • Paper
  • Site specific
  • Text
  • Time-based
  • Video
  • Web based
  • Wood
  • Zine