Workers Art Coalition (WAC) is a collective of union construction workers and artists who are working collaboratively to increase blue collar presence and cultural expression in the public sphere as well as exploring ways art might have a greater role in the labor movement. Contemporary mainstream depictions of blue collar work often associate it with a particular kind of person and body, while invisibilizing the level of skill and creativity it involves. Building trades workers and other manual laborers are not widely represented in the creative imagination in nuanced ways, despite the diversity in the blue collar workforce and how this manual work, essential to making modern life possible, is highly skilled and often dangerous. WAC recently created their Blue Collar zine as a compilation of complex and varied personal perspectives of the blue collar worker, including those beyond the more visible white, cis, heteronormative male worker experience. These firsthand accounts publicly share how individuals’ identities and life experiences have been affected by their participation in this professional(and unionized) field of work, the community and support they’ve been able to find within it, and blue collar participation in advocating for labor, housing and civil rights. WAC’s other work has been commissioned for the People’s Climate March, the Fight for 15,the Precarious Workers Pageant in Venice, the International Federation of Global Workers Education Summit in Peru, and a workers oral history project for the Library of Congress. WAC has recently been awarded the Socrates Sculpture Park fellowship.
– Melissa Liu