Nina Marie Barbuto
Nina Marie Barbuto is founder and director of Assemble, an interdisciplinary arts and creativity space in Pittsburgh’s East End.
If you’re a fan of hand-stitched stuffed animals, screen-printed t-shirts and wood-fired pottery, you may have already heard of Nina Barbuto. She’s a co-founder of Pittsburgh’s I Made It! Market, a nomadic craft and artisan show. Nina’s love of art and creativity also led her to found a new space centered on sharing that love with the children of Pittsburgh.
Assemble, located on Penn Avenue in Garfield, is a space for children to share ideas, learn skills and find their voices through, you guessed it – assembling. Educators, students, artists and innovators come to Assemble to share ideas and create unique learning experiences for area children and adults. The space hosts lectures, workshops and performances, all of them aimed at creating dialog. Children are a big part of that dialog, and at Assemble they’re able to have their voices heard. In Nina’s words, “We respect the children as you would adults. Their ideas are just, if not more, valid to the conversation.” Pittsburgh is a place that values the voices of its children, and Assemble proves that point every day.
What continues to guide Nina’s work? In her own words, “I keep going because it needs to happen. Also, the reactions of the little people who come into our space, who engage in an activity, and hug me on the way out because they are just so happy from doing things, from looking at microbiota to sewing electronics.” Nina’s contributions to the community and the authentic experiences created at Assemble are just some of the reasons that make Pittsburgh such a great place to be a kid.