Making Work Visible
City University of New York / Labor Arts
2022 Contest Winners
“The Roots Are a Base” is a symbolic depiction of how immigrants are part of what makes our society and how their worth is not seen or well-known to some of us. This painting shares the Labor Arts spirit by representing three main jobs where immigrants play a heavy role: construction, farming, and personal house cleaning. These three jobs are done mainly by immigrants who are usually taken advantage of due to their status. The medium used to make The Roots Are A Base is acrylic paint on canvas 12 x 16 in, coated in the end with gloss. The texture in the rocks is dried paint left from previously used paint. The theme that makes works visible is portrayed by an abandoned tree trunk where there’s garbage piled up and the underground with roots. The tree trunk represents part of being cut off from society. Its roots represent the power source and base which are the immigrant’s jobs that make up the essential bases of society. Construction workers are fundamental to our society because they build our homes, roads, etc. but are taken advantage of by their employers. They don’t get workers’ rights and are paid the minimum wage while they risk their lives. Farming is an essential of our society and the jobs are mainly done by immigrants. They as well are paid the lowest minimum wage and are discriminated against for their job. Personal house cleaners without being presented by a company are mainly immigrants who recently arrived. The labor is very demanding, and they are mistreated for not knowing the language and paid as little as possible. These three jobs are not appreciated and are belittled. It should be known that construction, farming, and housekeeping are as equal as other jobs and that they are a base that shapes our society. These jobs were also affected by the pandemic and showed how important they were to society; however, many individuals still ignore how important these workers are. The garbage picker in the top right corner symbolizes the minimum appreciation and understanding from these workers’ families.