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Social Unionism in Action

The Union Meets the Met: Young Gene

Magazine of Art, October 1946.

“Young Gene,” oil painting by Grace Kopman (age 57), a member of ILGWU Local 22, early 1940s.

Abel’s account of these early 1940s classes paints a revelatory picture of the idealism that characterized the effort. “All of us, teachers and pupils alike,” says Marie Hoffman (who assisted her husband in conducting the workshops), “approached our experiment in an attitude of fear and trembling.” Members of the class typified garment workers of all ages, “forced by circumstances to labor seven hours a day in routine jobs in shops and factories… [but they] did have a creative impulse—an impulse starved and frustrated by the social order in which they lived.”