Images of Labor

In 1980, Moe Foner, Executive Director of Bread and Roses, wanted to depict the relationship between working people and American history, and with the help of curator Nina Felshin and art director Pamela Vassil, he contacted well-known artists, asking them to participate in this project, which involved assigning them quotations about labor, and working. Esther Cohen published the exhibition catalogue.

Strong original pieces, done by many wonderful artists, from Milton Glaser and Sue Coe to Jacob Lawrence and Paul Davis opened at the union headquarters, then moved to the Smithsonian Institute in Washington. For three years, the art traveled through their SITES exhibits program. Images exhibits opened throughout Europe, with major exhibitions in Sweden and Germany. Posters from the exhibit, still in print, are found in thousands of labor offices, schools, community groups and public spaces throughout the United States and around the world.

Roberta Acuna poster
"If I had enough money, I would take busloads of people out to the fields and into the labor camps. Then they'd know how that fine salad got on their table."

Artist: Miriam Wosk

Phillip Randolph poster
"The essence of trade unionism is social uplift. The labor movement has been the haven for the dispossessed, the despised, the neglected, the downtrodden, the poor."

Artist: Marshall Arisman

Sit-Down Striker poster
"Those machines had kept going as long as we could remember...I finally remembered something...that I was a human being, that I could stop those machines, that I was better than those machines anytime."

Artist: Sue Coe

Carl Sandburg "Mills Doors" poster
"You never come back. I say goodbye when I see you going in doors, the hopeless open doors, that call and wait and take you then for – how many cents a day? How many cents for the sleepy eyes and fingers?"

Artist: John Collier

Sojourner Truth poster
"Look at me! Look at my arm! I have ploughed and planted. And ain't I a woman? I could work as much and eat as much as a man – when I could get it –and bear the lash as well – and ain't I a woman?"

Artist: Audrey Flack

George Baer poster
"They don't suffer. They don't even speak English." (Response to reporter's question about intolerable wages and conditions during the 1902 coal strike)

Artist: Edward Sorel

Mark Twain poster
"Who are the oppressed? The many: the nations of the earth, the valuable personages, the workers; they that make the bread that the soft-handed and idle eat."

Artist: Jacob Lawrence

Eugene V. Debs poster
"Intelligent discontent is the mainspring of civilization. Progress is born of agitation. It is agitation or stagnation."

Artist: Anita Siegel

Lucy Parsons poster
"We are the slaves of slaves. We are exploited more ruthlessly than men."

Artist: May Stevens

Nicola Sacco poster
"It is true, that they can execute the body, but they cannot execute the idea which is bound to live."

Artist: Milton Glaser

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