New artworks by the 2023 tough artist in residence now on display!

Asia Ward


Located next to the Nursery, above the stairs

Make Lily the colorful brine shrimp fly and see her swim through the air as you step onto the pink mat across from her.

Lily is made of 100% recycled plastic.

Asia Ward is an artist from Illinois making sculptures, installations and media that provoke questions about complicated systems like renewable energy. She has a portfolio of large-scale public sculptures and installations currently on display at sculpture parks in the Midwest. Her smaller sculptures on display at major science museum maker spaces around the nation. Ward has a background working with science museums as an education and exhibit project manager, her most recent with the Carnegie Museum of Natural History about the Anthropocene and Climate Change. She has participated in several Artist Residencies around the US, and has received grants from the Minnesota State Arts board, Northern Lights, Public Art Saint Paul, Institute on the Environment, and the Knight Foundation.

Learn more about Asia:

Instagram: @deartoy1

Watch her Tough Artist interview here:


Ling-lin Ku

Hard Work

Located outside MAKESHOP

Immerse yourself in a larger-than-life world as you explore colorful sewing materials.  Notice your imagination run wild in this piece that plays with size and scale.

Ling-lin Ku’s art plays between digital and tangible elements.  Ling-lin’s work has been exhibited both nationally and internationally. Ling-lin received her MFA from University of Texas at Austin and BFA from Virginia Commonwealth University. She is currently an assistant professor of art in Carnegie Mellon University.

Learn more about Ling-lin:

Watch her Tough Artist interview here:


Kolton Cotton & Tate Abdullah


Bog Bounce

Located across from the Kindness Gallery

Bounce around on the lily pads in Bog Bounce to discover the different mystical creatures living there and their unique characteristics.

As you bounce from one pad to the next, notice as the magical music surrounding you shifts and changes!

Kolton Cotton (he/him) and Tate Abdullah (any/all) are both MFA graduate students in the School of Drama at Carnegie Mellon University. Kolton specializes in video and media design, and is complemented by Tate’s specialization in sound design. As they further their studies, both artists are looking to expand into immersive artforms and more experimental theatre.

Kolton began his career as a Technical Director and educator for students ranging from K-12.

Tate has moved between audio engineering and conceptual sound design work in their time at undergrad and grad school.

Both artists wish to engage with the greater Pittsburgh community and create meaningful experiences for all ages.

Learn more about Kolton & Tate:

Instagram: @cottonkolton
Instagram: @polkabridges

Watch their Tough Artist interview here:


past tough art

See the previous year’s Tough Artists at pittsburghkids.org/exhibit/tough-art

tough art residency

The Tough Art summer residency is offered every year.

Learn more here.