Labor Arts

Labor Arts LaborArts.org presents powerful images through online exhibitions to further understanding of the past and present lives of working people.
Labor Arts was created in 2000 by Donald Rubin, Evelyn Jones Rich, Moe Foner (1915-2002), Henry Foner, Esther Cohen, Rachel Bernstein and Debra E. Bernhardt (1953-2001), with skilled help from Ami Palombo, Keri A. Myers, Jeff Watt, Keith Bush, Angela Powell, Milton Glaser and others. The Shelley and Donald Rubin Foundation, Bread and Roses, the cultural arm of the hospital workers' local 1199, Service Employees International Union (SEIU), and the Robert F. Wagner Labor Archives/Tamiment Library at New York University were the founding sponsors. We described our mission in 2001: LABOR ARTS is a work in progress -- a virtual museum designed to gather, identify and display examples of the cultural and artistic history of working people and to celebrate the trade union movement’s contributions to that history. We invite you to become involved in this exciting project by giving us your suggestions about resources, collections and exhibitions that we can include on our website. In a letter of support, then president of the AFL-CIO John J. Sweeney urged all international unions to cooperate in locating for display on Labor Arts "the treasure trove of cultural objects that have moved workers into action from the very inception of our movement."

Terrific article about Lemlich honoree Vinie Burrows and other impressive actors still doing great things onstage in the...
12/19/2019
200 Years of Experience, and Still Learning Onstage

Terrific article about Lemlich honoree Vinie Burrows and other impressive actors still doing great things onstage in the later decades of life.

Lois Smith, Estelle Parsons and Vinie Burrows on age, agility, perseverance and steering clear of “self-pitying old” roles.

"They look hopeless, exhausted; they work fifteen hours a day leaving them with no time to dream, to progress. Who are t...
11/18/2019

"They look hopeless, exhausted; they work fifteen hours a day leaving them with no time to dream, to progress. Who are they? Those who make coffee this morning at the local cafeteria, those who prepare that delicious breakfast sandwich before work, those who serve food at a restaurant, those who clean houses."
This is an excerpt by Jenifer Vivar, one of our "Making Work Visible" contest winners.
Think you have what it takes to win the contest? Visit Laborarts.org/contest for more information & to see past winners' work.

"The time on her alarm clock is set half an hour fast/to soften the shock of early morning—/as if the thought of waking ...
11/14/2019

"The time on her alarm clock is set half an hour fast/
to soften the shock of early morning—/
as if the thought of waking up at 5 a.m. instead of 4:30/
might somehow make the workday go by quicker.

This is an excerpt from Alexander Radison's poem, "4:30 AM".
Check out LaborArts.org/contest for details on how to enter.

"Work pants with their dry grays and navys and how perpetual this repetition is./ Laying my head on the shoulder of some...
11/12/2019

"Work pants with their dry grays and navys and how perpetual this repetition is./ Laying my head on the shoulder of some jeanhead halfdead Edward Lopez,/ The nylon legs look like cities with their belt roofs and button down skies!"

LInes from former contest winner Brian Alarcon's poem, "Work Pants"

CUNY student poets can win up to $1,000 in the first prize! Check out LaborArts.org/contest for past entries and details.

"This is Not Consent" is a striking fictional story about one young woman's experience with sexual assault. The most sho...
11/08/2019

"This is Not Consent" is a striking fictional story about one young woman's experience with sexual assault. The most shocking thing of all is how the character puts justice in her own hands when justice is not served by the court system.

Read our CUNY "Making Work Visible" contest winner Christa Hill's short story at Laborarts.org/contest.

11/08/2019
Labor Arts

Labor Arts

A virtual museum exhibiting and cataloging the art of the labor movement and working people.

Tamiment Library & Robert F. Wagner Labor Archives
10/25/2019

Tamiment Library & Robert F. Wagner Labor Archives

Jaeah Lee received the 2018-19 Debra E. Bernhardt Labor Journalism Prize for "The Real Cost of Working in the House of Mouse," Topic Magazine (https://www.topic.com/the-real-cost-of-working-in-the-house-of-mouse), September 2018. She was a featured speaker at the 2019 Bernhardt Labor Journalism Forum on October 16, 2019, Labor Journalism - The Next Generation, with Kim Kelly (Teen Vogue) and Alex Pres (Jacobin).

The Bernhardt Prize is an award of $500 given to an article that furthers the understanding of the history of working people. Articles focused on historical events AND articles about current issues (work, housing, organizing, health, education) that include historical context are both welcome. The 2018-2019 contest deadline was August 25, 2019. Check back in January 2020 to enter next year's contest, which will cover articles published between August 26, 2019 - August 25, 2020.

The New York Labor History Association sponsors this award in order to inspire more great writing for a general audience about the history of work, workers, and their organizations. The award is co-sponsored by LaborArts; Metro New York Labor Communications Council; the NYC Central Labor Council, AFL-CIO; and the Robert F. Wagner Labor Archives at NYU’s Tamiment Library. The contest committee is: Irwin Yellowitz, NYLHA; Rachel Bernstein, LaborArts; Gary Schoichet, Metro; Kate Whalen, NYC CLC; and Michael Koncewicz, Tamiment.

“ 'Times are Hard on the Boulevard' is a drawing made with charcoal, depicting a single mother having to struggle to hol...
10/14/2019

“ 'Times are Hard on the Boulevard' is a drawing made with charcoal, depicting a single mother having to struggle to hold multiple bags of groceries for her children. My mother was a single mother and she had to do this numerous times. The title is a saying that my mother would use to describe how unfortunate our financial circumstances were."

“ 'Kill off Distractions' is about individuals knowing the importance of detecting the negative distractions in life and getting rid of them. Being able to observe and reflect on what is benefiting you in your life at that present moment and what is stunting your growth. This mixed media painting depicts a powerful black woman fighting her negative distractions in order to harness her positive energy."

Shahaadah Morell presented her artwork as one of our "Making Work Visible" CUNY contest students in front of the audience for a Working Theater production in midtown in July.

World Priemier of DisparityOctober 17. 2019 7-9pmThe Church of Ascension, 36 Fifth Avenue, New York CityA FREE event.  H...
10/10/2019

World Priemier of Disparity
October 17. 2019 7-9pm
The Church of Ascension, 36 Fifth Avenue, New York City

A FREE event. Hosted by the National Writers Union, New Sanctuary Coalition, LaborArts and Women's Empowerment Coalition of NYC

Details - The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) is working with a coalition of civil society organizations to promote a new documentary film which addresses the growing inequalities in the world and critiques the "aid" which benefits donors more than recipients. The film features prominent economists and Nobel laureates, and the screening is part of a day-long world premier, beginning in Australia and ending with this screening in NYC. The film is in English with Spanish sub-titles.

A discussion will follow after the screening.

"Safe Place", the title of this artwork, "represents being aware and careful about what a person attracts to themselves ...
10/09/2019

"Safe Place", the title of this artwork, "represents being aware and careful about what a person attracts to themselves and what they allow in their safe place", said the artist, Janay Mosley.

She was one of a few CUNY students from our "Making Work Visible" contest who presented in front of an audience ahead of the Working Theater's production in midtown in July.

Labor Journalism - The Next GenerationIn conversation with labor writers Kim Kelly ( Teen Vogue ) and Alex Press (Jacobi...
10/08/2019

Labor Journalism - The Next Generation

In conversation with labor writers Kim Kelly ( Teen Vogue ) and Alex Press (Jacobin)

Fifth Annual Debra E. Bernhardt Labor Journalism Awards Ceremony

Wednesday October 16, 2019 6-8pm
NYU Bobst Library 7th Floor room 745
70 Washington Square South

RSVP via e-mail to [email protected] with guest names and event title.

Refreshments will be served.

This New York Labor History Association award is co-sponsored by LaborArts, Metro New York Labor Communications Council, NYC Central Labor Council, AFL-CIO, and the Robert F. Wagner Labor Archives at NYU’s Tamiment Library.

More information at LaborArts.org/Bernhardt or [email protected].

10/08/2019
"Each morning, a rush of industry.Track streaks, harsh sparkles, morning light trickling through the interstices:Lusterl...
10/07/2019

"Each morning, a rush of industry.
Track streaks, harsh sparkles, morning light trickling through the interstices:
Lusterless subway glitter, maring the puffy eyes,
The calloused hands, the tailored suits, the untailored khakis.

Each morning, a phantom fog horn.
A sounding bell ringing in the aftermath of its endless echo
Through the canals of every ear,
Swallowed by the cavernous clamor."

This is an excerpt from Isaiah Rivera 's poem, "The Commuters" He is a graduate from Brooklyn College.

He read his poem to the audience before an Working Theater production in July as apart of our "Making Work Visible" CUNY student-centered pre-show.

"The image of my grandmother preparing the food, serving the table, washing the dishes in a house that is not hers, beca...
09/30/2019

"The image of my grandmother preparing the food, serving the table, washing the dishes in a house that is not hers, because that is her job, taking care of others with vocation and dedication, but who cares for her on the way home? When the cold winter breeze hits your face and the long way home wears your bones."

This is an excerpt from Cinthia Encarnacion's piece, "The Women of my Family".

Want to see the rest? Check out our link, Laborarts.org/contest.

09/27/2019
Working Theater

Look out for this event coming up!

Join our friends at Labor Arts on Wednesday October 16, 6-8PM, for The Next Generation: In conversation with Kim Kelly (labor reporter for Teen Vogue ) and Alex Press (editor and reporter at Jacobin). Debra E. Bernhardt Labor Journalism Awards Ceremony, NYU Bobst Library ,7th Floor, Room 745, 70 Washington Square South. To RSVP, e-mail [email protected] with guest names and title of event. #labor #laborarts #journalism

Student volunteers help rebuild roofs in Puerto Rico as apart of the CUNY Service Corps Program. The disaster from Hurri...
09/25/2019

Student volunteers help rebuild roofs in Puerto Rico as apart of the CUNY Service Corps Program. The disaster from Hurricane Maria left homes in distraous conditions. This is what Lyvette Soto's piece depicts in her picture.

Check out her & other winners' pieces here: Laborarts.org/contest.

Joining the army as a way to afford college, Joseph Diyarza's "Finding My Way", recounts his experiences. He did not get...
09/23/2019

Joining the army as a way to afford college, Joseph Diyarza's "Finding My Way", recounts his experiences. He did not get there as fast as he would've liked to, but through the guidance of his best friend and determination, he reached his goal.

Read more at laborarts.org/contest.

"The city of New York was built by millions upon millions of workers, documented and undocumented alike. These workers h...
09/18/2019

"The city of New York was built by millions upon millions of workers, documented and undocumented alike. These workers have toiled to build one of the great cities of our world, and yet they remain nameless to the multitudes that descend upon our concrete shores."

This is what Jonathan Yubi Gomez's oil painting represents. To see more work, visit our page, Laborarts.org/contest.

"Here comes the immortals, walking side by side…/Engaging on a perilous journey tainted with fear and pride/Day after da...
09/16/2019

"Here comes the immortals, walking side by side…/
Engaging on a perilous journey tainted with fear and pride/
Day after day, they carry their tools to the forbidden forest/
To harvest the woods of life to keep their kin warm from the tempest"

To read the full poem, "The Immortals" by Isley Jean Pierre, check out Laborarts.org/contest.

We celebrated activist and feminist politician Ronnie Eldridge at the Lemlich Awards in May, where she was introduced by...
07/05/2019

We celebrated activist and feminist politician Ronnie Eldridge at the Lemlich Awards in May, where she was introduced by Sasha Matthews. Sasha is a 9th grade activist and cartoonist.

She represented the Upper West Side on New York's City Council from 1989 to 2001. Also, she advocated for women from within as a Special Assistant to New York City's Mayor John Lindsay. Currently, her weekly television talk show
"Eldridge & Co", appears on CUNY TV.

Photos by Gary Schoichet

"“I was born on January 30, 1931, and that was Franklin Roosevelt’s birthday…an immediate connection … I was born a politician… also guided by his four freedoms – freedom of speech, freedom of religion, freedom from want and freedom from fear.”- Ronnie Eldridge, 2019 Lemlich ceremony

Video to follow on our website soon.

In her 90s, Dr. Melissa Freeman continues to serve her community in Harlem.The granddaughter of a slave, she continues t...
07/03/2019

In her 90s, Dr. Melissa Freeman continues to serve her community in Harlem.The granddaughter of a slave, she continues to regularly see patients at the office she opened in 1981, AND she continues the fight against opioid addiction at a clinic associated with Beth Israel.

“I am the granddaughter of a man who was born into slavery in the United States… he was taken away from his mother as a young child -- which is something that is going on now, as you well know – a terrible situation.”

Photos by Gary Schoichet

Dr. Freeman was introduced by Breena Clarke.

Elba Cabrera, affectionately known as the "madrina de las artes", is a great supporter of Latino artists. She is one of ...
07/02/2019

Elba Cabrera, affectionately known as the "madrina de las artes", is a great supporter of Latino artists. She is one of three sisters who changed the cultural landscape of New York City, mainly in the Bronx, through literature, public advocacy, performing arts, and more. Her personal relationships with artists, musicians, & writers helped expand her service to the Association of Hispanic Arts and other cultural institutions.

“I believe very strongly in the young people - they’re the ones that are going to change the things that are happening now.”-Elba Cabrera, 2019 Lemlich Awards ceremony
She was introduced by Anita Antonetty.
Photos by Peter Odabashian & Gary Schoichet

Doris Diether's activism started with a protest against Robert Moses trying to get rid of free Shakespeare in the Park p...
07/01/2019

Doris Diether's activism started with a protest against Robert Moses trying to get rid of free Shakespeare in the Park performances. Fast forward [to] a few [decades] later, she is now a Greenwich Village housing activist, and the longest serving community board member in Manhattan (52 years and counting). She has been a steadfast voice for affordable housing since 1960.

"“We organized a coalition…if something came up in the West Village, for instance, in Jane Jacobs’ territory, she would call the rest of us and we would all go to the hearings.”- Doris Diether, 2019 Lemlich Awards ceremony

Photos by Gary Schoichet

Doris Diether was Introduced by Katie Goldstein at the 2019 Lemlich ceremony.

Born into the labor movement, Philoine Fried is the daughter of two iconic labor leaders. The oldest of the honorees thi...
06/28/2019

Born into the labor movement, Philoine Fried is the daughter of two iconic labor leaders. The oldest of the honorees this year, (at the age of 102), she is a powerful force to be reckoned with behind the scenes. She worked for decades with the Jewish Labor Committee and is also a founding member of the New York Labor History Association.

Photos by Gary Schoichet and Peter Odabashian

"Clara Lemlcih was an activist, fighting all her life for the rights of working people, her accomplishments were acknowledged by the establishment of the Clara Lemlich Awards, & it is an especially great honor for me to receive the award in her name."-Philoine Fried, 2019 Clara Lemlich Awards

Philoine was Introduced by Joe Doyle at the Lemlich ceremony.

"This is a very fast-paced kitchen. It was always my dream to work in a pastry kitchen and finally, my dream has come tr...
06/21/2019

"This is a very fast-paced kitchen. It was always my dream to work in a pastry kitchen and finally, my dream has come true. However, I now realize it was more difficult than what I thought it could be." This is an excerpt from Sizhen Ivy Chen's piece, "Bittersweet in a Kitchen". She goes into great detail the hard labor of her typical experiences working in a pastry kitchen at a French restaurant.

"As we sit in silence, in thought,In headphone heaven, in angst.All draped in the vast,If insufficient, blanket of the A...
06/20/2019

"As we sit in silence, in thought,
In headphone heaven, in angst.
All draped in the vast,
If insufficient, blanket of the American flag."

Want to read more? Visit laborarts.org/contest to read the rest of Isaiah Rivera's poem, The Commuters.

"The Life of an Administrative Assistant" is about an often overlooked job, but is very important in the organization of...
06/19/2019

"The Life of an Administrative Assistant" is about an often overlooked job, but is very important in the organization of any company. Liza Genao shares her experiences working as an administrative assistant for a program apart of the New York City Department of Youth and Development. She is a peer of many of the participants in the program, which is both a challenge and asset.

"I was three when my mother came to the U.S., and she tells me how she used to sing this Nepali lullaby about Jureli bir...
06/14/2019

"I was three when my mother came to the U.S., and she tells me how she used to sing this Nepali lullaby about Jureli birds to one of (the children) she was taking care of, imagining that she was singing it to me, which was the inspiration behind my illustration."

This is from a description of Amir Tamang's digital artwork, describing his mother's experience as an undocumented domestic worker. Check out the rest here: Laborarts.org/contest.

"My mother came of age in an Americafixated on the sky,and she had been facing upwardswell before Armstrong found his fo...
06/12/2019

"My mother came of age in an America
fixated on the sky,
and she had been facing upwards
well before Armstrong found his footing."

This is an excerpt from Ilana Blumenthal's poem, "Celestial Bodies"

Read the rest of her poem along with other student's works here: Laborarts.org/contest.

America Runs on Dunkin'... or does it really? Eva McGill's (Eva Maltese) piece analyzes the relationship between custome...
06/10/2019

America Runs on Dunkin'... or does it really? Eva McGill's (Eva Maltese) piece analyzes the relationship between customers and employees from her own experiences working at the popular coffee chain. She looks into the hierarchies of baristas at different stores. Read her piece here: LaborArts.org/contest.

Elba Cabrera, affectionately known as the "Godmother of the Arts", is a great supporter of Latino artists. She changed t...
06/07/2019

Elba Cabrera, affectionately known as the "Godmother of the Arts", is a great supporter of Latino artists. She changed the cultural landscape of New York City, mainly in the Bronx, through literature, public advocacy, performing arts, and more.

Photo by Gary Schoichet

Read the brilliant article about Elba's legacy from El Diario:Tribute for Elba Cabrera, "Godmother of the Arts", here: https://eldiariony.com/2019/05/07/homenaje-para-elba-cabrera-madrina-de-las-artes/

Want to learn more about her? Be on the lookout for our expanded posts of our incredible 2019 Lemlich honorees coming soon.

Born into the labor movement, Philoine Fried is the daughter of two iconic labor leaders. The oldest of the honorees thi...
06/06/2019

Born into the labor movement, Philoine Fried is the daughter of two iconic labor leaders. The oldest of the honorees this year, at the age of 102, she is a powerful force to be reckoned with behind the scenes. She worked for decades with the Jewish Labor Committee and is also a founding member of the New York Labor History Association.

Photo by Gary Schoichet

Stay tuned for our future posts further honoring these women. Visit http://www.laborarts.org/lemlichawards/2018/ to see our previous honorees from past years.

In her 90s, Dr. Melissa Freeman continues to serve her community in Harlem. The granddaughter of a slave, she continues ...
06/05/2019

In her 90s, Dr. Melissa Freeman continues to serve her community in Harlem. The granddaughter of a slave, she continues to regularly see patients at the office she opened in 1981, AND she continues the fight against opioid addiction at a clinic associated with Beth Israel.

Photo by Gary Schoichet
Check out the link, http://www.laborarts.org/lemlichawards/2018/ to view our past honorees, and check back soon for more on the amazing women from 2019.

Doris Deither is a Greenwich Village housing activist, and the longest serving community board member in Manhattan (52 y...
06/04/2019

Doris Deither is a Greenwich Village housing activist, and the longest serving community board member in Manhattan (52 years and counting). She has been a steadfast voice for affordable housing since 1960.

Photo credit: Gary Schoichet

Read this great article from The Villager about Doris: https://www.thevillager.com/2019/05/villages-diether-among-lemlich-honorees/?fbclid=IwAR1yz_CqwmAeWIS3RyuZkY771aWj3s50TL3GPOdp5wOt5uS7QoewFHA20oc

Stay tuned for our series of posts honoring our extraordinary 2019 Lemlich honorees.

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10th Floor Bobst Library NYU, 70 Washington Square South
New York, NY
10012

Telephone

(212) 998-2637

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