This weekend, the 9th annual 32BJ Art show displayed a variety of artwork from its 32BJ and 1199 members, including city and office building workers alike. The work featured paintings, sketches and a live show, which included singing, poetry and performance art.
Read more about this amazing event, which connected worker/artists with a supportive platform. This display of art in various mediums emphasizes the importance of labor/arts events such as this one: they open up possibilities and lift up cultural production in the lives of city and office workers.
In December of last year, I was honored to be invited to participate in a special Brown Bag lunch at SPS in which I and three of my colleagues gave individual presentations on our use of the medium of photography. I was very excited to take part — and especially to learn more about the creative projects of my fellow workers.
For the full text of “Albanza,” by Martin Espada, visit the poet’s website at MartinEspada.net.
In the prose poem “Alabanza,” acclaimed poet Martin Espada honors the forty-three members of Local 100 who died in the attacks on the Twin Towers on September 11, 2001. These workers staffed the Windows on the World restaurant, located at the top of the North Tower.
The first two stanzas of “Alabanza” begin with deft, quick portraits animated by the music of bread and eggs: a cook from Fajardo whose blue eyes echo Spanish and American invasions of Puerto Rico. The tattooed “oye” on his shoulder, an exclamation that shares shades of meaning across several languages and cultures, underlines the transcendence of words. Each worker carries familial histories in bodies as they move through daily routines of feeding customers.
Espada’s next sketches build on these personal moments by intentionally linking histories of structural conquest and labor movements in the Caribbean. The roll call of migrant and immigrant workers listed in this poem serve as remembrance. In its breathtaking diversity, it is also a reminder that our cities are points for labor flows affected by agrarian and trade agreements and military campaigns. Espada avoids commenting on the attacks on the Twin Towers themselves, but instead directs us to the unspoken lives and labor struggles represented in the poem. As the poem opens outward, it moves beyond our imaginations.
On June 12th, 2015, the Murphy Institute Blog Arts & Culture Editors hosted the first ever Creative Arts Night at the Murphy Institute.
In this video clip, Dr. Randall Horton, Assistant Professor of New Haven College of Arts and Science, explores how his writing life as a poet began during his commuted sentence in North Carolina correctional facility. This talk was part of the Creative Arts panel event in June 2015 at the Murphy Institute.
In tracing his creative and academic path, Horton demonstrates the connections between the creative arts, sociopolitical consciousness and grassroots organizing. He shows how writing programs such as the Cave Canem and the Asian American Writers’ Workshop can serve as alternatives to institutional fine arts programs that are inaccessible to many writers in underserved communities. In providing mentoring and workshop space, these organizations offer much-needed creative instruction and facilitate counter-perspectives to the production emerging from BFA and MFA programs.
On June 12th, 2015, the Murphy Institute Blog Arts & Culture Editors hosted the first ever Creative Arts Night at the Murphy Institute. In the coming weeks, we’ll be posting some footage from our esteemed panelists and performers.
Here, activist, filmmaker and writer Agunda Okeyo discusses her unique role in the world of art, social justice and the imagination. Agunda was also featured in this month’s issue of Time Out NYC in a section featuring Best Comedy Shows run by females.
A conversation about workers, communities and social justice