Work, Play, Fight

By Zenzile Greene

Our idea for this piece was to use images as a way to explore the extracurricular life of a worker and place it directly into the context of her work space. It is a visual dialogue between her journey as a martial artist and the role it has played in her evolution as a mother, and worker as well as other identities.

<click through to see the slideshow>

The process of photographing Ellie in her traditional Gi uniform using our midtown city work space as a backdrop was a pleasantly disorienting experience.  For me, photographing Ellie in this setting changed the meaning of the space as well as Ellie’s place within it. The passages in each slide are sections of an essay that Ellie wrote about her martial arts training. We wanted to convey Ellie’s body in trained movement, juxtaposing her thoughts against a series of battle positions.

Seeing Ellie posed confidently and powerfully on a conference room table with the backdrop of an iconic industrial factory mural, rendering a homo-social space, challenges the ways in which the definition of working space and the role of a worker can shift based on our own understanding of its purpose. Based on our visual understanding of conference rooms, how does Ellie’s presence complicate notions of class, gendered roles and behaviors?

Our hope is that this piece challenges others to re-imagine their own work spaces as populated either literally or conceptually by interests that serve to inform their roles as workers.

In addition to working full time as assistant to the Editor of New Labor Forum journal for the last seventeen years here at the Murphy Institute, Ellie Morales has also trained tirelessly in the art of Vee Jitsu 75 for over ten of those years starting in 2005. As part of her extensive training and general physical conditioning she is also an avid runner.  She resides in New York raising and caring for a family with her husband and in her spare time she also writes poetry, short stories and has written books for her own children. Ellie is also a member of DC37.

2 thoughts on “Work, Play, Fight”

  1. This is a wonderfully inspiring photo-essay about what Ellie brings to her workplace, a capacity and intention to do great work while having other dynamic and impressive abilities that make her who she is as a person. Her story is a universal celebration of who workers are. Kudos to Ellie for her determination and skill in gaining a prestigious belt in martial arts and for sharing the story of her journey!

  2. How surprising seeing your own co-worker as a whole (new) person. How much of us is hidden in the everyday work!

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