Oakland Public Library announced today that the multimedia art exhibit and initiative “Working in America” has opened at its Main Library, at 125 14th Street. Inspired by Studs Terkel’s 1974 book, “Working,” and created and conceived by Project&’s President and Artistic Director, Jane M. Saks, the exhibit features powerful photographs by Pulitzer Prize-winning photojournalist Lynsey Addario. Those photos, along with accompanying text, tell the raw, honest stories of 24 workers from around the country, including an Oakland resident: a veteran-turned-urban-farmer, a retired oil-field worker, a professional escort, a high school principal, an Olympic gold-medalist, an electrician, a Silicon Valley entrepreneur and others. There are several other individuals from the Oakland area featured in the photographic exhibit – a core part of the initiative. The exhibit will be on display through mid March, 2018.
“The exhibit as well as the entire initiative focuses on the centrality of work in all our lives – not just the way we make a living, but also how we make a life. It is about the dignity of all work and all workers, visible and invisible. And about how our work or lack of work affects how we see ourselves, others, our role in our communities, families and our sense of self. It is the thread that connects us all. This conversation is as important as ever in the United States and globally,” said Saks, who founded Project& with a small group of individuals in 2013 to create collaborations with artists that build new models of cultural participation and experiences with social impact in the arts.
The national tour of “Working in America” was inaugurated and installed in Chicago for 10 months, traveling next to Aspen Colorado and now installed in Oakland, CA until March 31, 2018. In each city, “Working in America” serves as a catalyst to promote and support deep engagement with the issues of work and labor in that particular place while building on a large and powerful national conversation that has recently only gained impact in the US.
“We are thrilled to host the ‘Working in America’ exhibit in the Bay Area,” said Mana Tominaga, Supervising Librarian for the Main Library. “This exhibit highlights the dignity, variety, and focus of workers in America, and hosting it in a public library allows for free access to the amazing photographs and narratives. I’m particularly thrilled with the local connection – one of the portraits is an Oaklander, Kelly Carlisle, who also designed the Growing Readers Garden outside of the Children’s Room here.”
The exhibit, which was designed in collaboration with Jeanne Gang + Studio Gang Architects, is part of a larger, multi-platform initiative that includes a radio series that aired in September 2017 and 2018 on National Public Radio and that was co-produced by Saks and Radio Diaries Executive Producer Joe Richman. The initiative also includes a living, online community called “Your Working Story,” where anyone across the country can add their own working stories and photographs. Go to http://working.org/.
Project& collaborates with artists to create new models of cultural participation and experiences with social impact. We amplify artistic voices that risk, engage, investigate and inspire, highlighting issues at the forefront of our time including: race, gender, human rights and economic inequality. We create models and new work that cross platforms and focus on human experiences putting new narratives, agency, and equitable participation at the center. We hold multiple creative roles that are shaped by the context and vision of the work, and vary from project to project. They include creator, initiator, partner, producer, distributor and convener. They work with artists including: Pulitzer Prize Winning Playwright Lynn Nottage, acclaimed visual artists Hank Willis Thomas, Cheryl Pope, and Jim Hodges, MacArthur Fellow and renowned musician Claire Chase, Award-Winning Filmmaker Yance Ford as well as Lynsey Addario and Jeanne Gang. For more information, visit www.projectand.org and www.working.org.
About Jane M. Saks
Saks is Founding President & Artistic Director of Project&. She is a creative collaborator, arts producer, writer & educator who has worked to challenge and champion issues of gender, sexuality, human rights, race and power within the worlds of arts and culture, politics and civil rights, academia and philanthropy. She works with artists including Lynn Nottage, Claire Chase, Lynsey Addario, Cheryl Pope, Hank Willis Thomas, Yance Ford, Tania Bruguera. Previously, she was the founding Executive Director at the Institute for the Study of Women and Gender in the Arts and Media where she created the award-winning Fellowship program, developing and launching works that went on to win Pulitzer Prizes, MacArthur Genius Awards, Obie Awards and Guggenheims. She serves on boards including: Cultural Advisory Council for the City of Chicago, LGBT Pride Action Tank, Trustee, Nathan Cummings Foundation, The Center for the Study of Race and Ethnicity in America, US South Africa Constitutional Court Artworks and Architecture Committee, Radio Diaries as well as others. She is an invited lecturer at civic, cultural and educational institutions internationally, has been a visiting critic at Yale University and Regional Judge for the White House Fellows program.
About Lynsey Addario
Lynsey Addario is an American photojournalist who regularly works for The New York Times, National Geographic, and Time Magazine. She is a Project& Fellow. Lynsey’s recent work includes reportage on Syrian refugees, the ISIS push into Iraq, the civil war in South Sudan, and maternal mortality in Sierra Leone. In 2015, American Photo Magazine named Lynsey one of the five most influential photographers of the past 25 years. She has received the MacArthur Fellowship and the Overseas Press Club's Olivier Rebbot Award. She is also the author of the 2015 New York Times best-selling memoir “It's What I Do,” which chronicled her life as a photojournalist coming of age in the post-9/11 world.