Workers Art Coalition

Image: Workers Art Coalition, Illuminating History, 2017. Installation and sound work derived from workers oral history WAC produced for the Library of Congress, as part of Culture Push’s – The Archive of Affect for NURTUREart in Brooklyn. Courtesy of Workers Art Coalition. See more here and here.


Workers Art Coalition 2


Introducing the Workers Art Coalition (WAC) NYC, a collective of construction workers and artists participating in New Poetics of Labor 2018.


“If the work of the tradesperson is to bring into fruition the vision of designers, it can create very specific relational complications, the designer unfamiliar with limitations of materials, and trades people unable to imagine past the limitations of those materials. The bringing of the two together is in part meant to challenge all of them as workers to think past preconceived boundaries of physics, design and other assumptions, while opening new avenues of possibility for the building of structures and systems. ’’ — Jaime Lopez (WAC)

WAC is a collective of construction workers and artists who invoke labor’s role in combating climate change, classism, racism, and sexism through public art, artisanship and protest.

Their work has been commissioned for the People’s Climate March(es), the Fight for 15, the Precarious Workers Pageant in Venice, the International Federation of Global Workers Education Summit in Peru, and a workers oral history project for the Library of Congress. WAC created two workers art pavilions, the second constructed on the anniversary of the World’s Fair (“The World of Tomorrow”) where, at the same site, an attempt was made to produce a “Temple of Labor” in 1939. The collective seeks further ways art and labor can be marshaled in cultural expression and collective struggle.

“Si el trabajo del obrero es llevar a buen término la visión de los diseñadores, puede crear complicaciones relacionales muy específicas, el diseñador que no esta familiarizado con las limitaciones de los materiales y el constructores que no pueden imaginarse más allá de las limitaciones de esos materiales. Los dos reunidos para desafiar a los pensamientos de los límites preconcebidos de la física, el diseño y otras suposiciones, mientras abren nuevas vías de posibilidad para la construcción de estructuras y sistemas.” — Jaime Lopez (WAC)

WAC es un colectivo de trabajadores de construcción y artistas que invocan el papel de los trabajadores en la lucha contra el cambio climático, el clasismo, el racismo y el sexismo a través del arte público, lo artesanal y la protesta.

Su trabajo ha sido encargado para la Marcha Climática del Pueblo, Lucha por 15, el Desfile de Trabajadores Precarios en Venecia, FIAET – federación internacional de asociaciones de educación obrera en Perú, y un proyecto de historia oral de los trabajadores para la Biblioteca del Congreso. WAC creó dos pabellones de arte para los trabajadores, el segundo construido en el aniversario de la Feria Mundial (“El mundo del mañana”) donde, en el mismo sitio, se hizo un intento de producir un “Templo del Trabajo” en 1939. El colectivo busca otras formas en que el arte y el trabajo pueden organizarse en la expresión cultural y la lucha colectiva.


Wokers Pavilion
Workers Pavilion, 2013. Corona Plaza, Queens, NY. Photo by Edouard Rogers.


“The original Workers Pavilion concept in 2012 was to become an ongoing public project that would bring attention to worker issues from their own perspectives. The Pavilion would showcase worker creativity and collectivity while creating a space for dialogue. The process of designing, engineering and construction of the structure would also build on worker solidarity while considering a larger labor context. The Harry Van Arsdale Center has a history of addressing issues of immigrant labor struggles and job safety creating a solid partnership. Barrie Cline developed these ideas through her exposure to the Occupy Movement, conversations with Sheet Metal Worker Bobby Andrew, support from the Social Practice Queens program and the Harry Van Arsdale Jr. Center for Labor Studies. The idea was further developed In association with New Immigrant Community Empowerment (NICE) with hopes to realize the public project in Flushing Meadows Corona Park, Corona Queens, NY, for December of 2012. (Home of the 39’ & 64’ World’s Fair)

Barrie introduced the Worker Pavilion with sketches to former student Jaime Lopez, a Local 3 union electrician, and Corona Queens native. Groundwork for the Workers’ Pavilion included seeking out the involvement of NICE members and fellow electrical union members / Van Arsdale students. Other union tradespeople joined in creating a printed publication of photographic images and texts that helped express feelings about their work. There was a special focus on safety conditions seeing this as a good place to start building common ground. The publication was realized with fellow SPQ student Sol Aramendi and her own PROJECT LUZ, and distributed with the help of the Van Arsdale Center and the SPQ program on April 28th, 2013 honoring Workers Memorial Day in Corona Plaza.”

See more here.



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