You could call Pittsburgh artist Lori Hornell the ultimate recycler. Both her home and her art reflect an unorthodox use of materials and her flamboyant sense of fun.
Long before “recycling” became a popular buzzword, Hornell created art from found objects. “From paperclips to chicken bones, tomato cages to teabags, I use components and mediums I discover or create,” she says, pointing to a dramatic 9×15-foot sculpture fashioned from individually painted and spliced egg crates hanging on the rear wall of her living room as a typical example.
It’s not the sort of art one expects to find in a historic home. But here it is, in the converted 19th-century carriage house she shares with her husband Alan, CEO of a marketing agency. Her contemporary works—paintings, textiles and whimsical mixed-media sculptures—stamp their home with her eclectic personal style. “I love color,” she says. The walls sing with it.
The Hornells’ residence, built in 1865 in the city’s Point Breeze neighborhood, once sheltered horses and carriages on the Gilded Age estate of steel magnate Andrew Carnegie. Later, his brother Thomas lived there. When the Carnegie mansion was razed in 1921 and the land subdivided, the original frame and shingle barn remained. Since then, previous owners altered the exterior to resemble a cottage. The interior, however, remained relatively untouched. Under a 24-foot-high ceiling, the old haylofts now serve as balconies. The walls are covered in the original barn-board siding.
“It’s really easy to knock in a few nails and hang things,” says Alan. “Lori goes around with a hammer all the time. She’s impossible.” Not only does she move things around, he declares, but the walls and ceiling and every available surface sport art.
A mobile hangs next to a fireplace; sculptures and candelabras line the mantel. “There’s so much going on, my big job is to clear the place out so it doesn’t get too busy looking,” he adds. In truth, thanks to Lori’s artistic eye, the rooms appear like uncluttered and interesting compositions. Alan’s teasing complaint expresses good-natured camaraderie.
“We’ve been at this a long time,” he admits.
To read more about the Hornell home, pick up your copy of the Spring 2012 issue of AmericanStyle magazine.
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