Location: Washington, DC, United States
Completion date: 2000
Artwork budget: $13,000
AFL-CIO national headquarters, Washington DC
I was commissioned by the AFL-CIO to celebrate their commitment to civil and workers rights. I used photo transfers on fabric to represent the people and organizations they represent. I was asked to put the statement, “Working Families Unite For Civil Rights and Justice” after I designed the piece. At first I was stymied until one very late night while working on the photo transfers, I realized the most organic way to add the words was to make them look like a hand written placard.
Photographs we are all familiar with over our lifetimes are very powerful yet can be very sensitive and painful. A single photograph can become a symbol for an entire political movement or sometimes carry with it the tragedy and pain of an event. We are all familiar with the image of the World Trade Centers in flames, for example. The civil rights movement has many of those moments and my task was to incorporate images to describe and celebrate that history.
I worked with the board of the AFL-CIO in several conference calls. I listened to all of the voices in order to be able to reflect the truest vision for everybody. I used hand dyed fabrics on the border to represent all the skin tones of our country. Hands are quilted throughout the border as a way of unifying the art and celebrating workers.
The most wonderful part for me was the phone call I received after the piece was delivered to the AFL-CIO in Washington DC. My contact told me they opened the box and cried. When I can touch someone with my artwork to that degree, it makes me happy.