Meet the KtB Team: Randy Pearson!

Randy Pearson strategizes with the KtB team about the installation

Randy Pearson strategizes with the KtB team on the Warhol Bridge pre-installation

Meet Randy Pearson, our behind the scenes, database creator and expert for Knit the Bridge.  How did we manage to coordinate 1800+ individuals and keep track of their work and information?  Thanks to Randy Pearson and his hard work and expertise, we were able to manage and organize a huge amount of data and respect participants’ privacy requests.  Learn more about this amazing feat and the person behind it…

1. What is your History with Pittsburgh?
I moved to Pittsburgh to attend Carnegie Mellon University. That was now 40 years ago, and I never left!

2. What is your History with Fiber Art?

Although I love fiber art and enjoy supporting artists and projects in other ways, I have no fiber art skill whatsoever. My wife, Penny Mateer, is a fiber artist. She started with art quilts, but has expanded to other media in recent years.

3. What are you most excited about doing (or having done) as part of the core Knit the Bridge Team?

Working with the core team, I developed the information system that we used to track the people and artwork for Knit the Bridge. This system started out modestly small–recording the people who signed up on our blog; logging and tracking the pieces they submitted; and managing the assembly of pieces into panels.

Then, over the 6 months since its inception, the system grew to include: uploading panel photos; identifying bridge locations and where panels were to be installed; training of volunteers; management of installation and de-installation shifts and workers.
Finally, as installation day approached, we added publicly-available functions, such as the Walking Tour and other means for people to find their work on the bridge. A particularly exciting aspect of this was providing a “data feed” for a separate mobile website, developed by David Troyer and his colleague. This allowed both systems to provide consistent information to the public in real time, without the developers needing to know anything about each others’ technologies!

Randy (center) - behind the scenes behind the scenes

Randy (center) – behind the scenes behind the scenes

4. What do you see as the challenges?

Psychologically, I see a letdown period following the de-installation. Some of us have already started to feel it, starting when we vacated The Plate and completed the installation. 

Logistically, we have the challenge of deciding how and when to retire the live information system, what to archive (and in what formats), where to store such archives, and other legacy issues. 
I also want to write a document describing the information system design and evolution. It could prove valuable for future groups attempting projects of similar scope. 
Pondering the complex database

Pondering the complex database

5. How can others support your work with KtB?
My work here is (nearly!) done. Many of the core team members provided invaluable support during the past 6 months, by defining needs, testing, asking questions and providing suggestions.


  1. Coleen Rush · · Reply

    So inspiring! I had no idea who made all the information technology and coordination possible. It all seemed to work so easily. Thank you Randy for a job well done.

  2. Margie Smith · · Reply

    Will you be involved in the distribution of the panels? Curious as to how that is going to be done, and how you’re hooking up with agencies and organizations that can use them.

  3. Nancy Powell · · Reply

    Thank you so much, Randy, for all your hard work! We appreciate it.

  4. You Rock Randy!…as does Ms. Mateer, et. al

  5. Thank you! (and to everyone on the core team and all the volunteers)!
    I’d love to see a follow up or debrief on how the system was developed and evolved, it’d be great for other projects to leverage and learn from.

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