Davis Gallery: Art & Labor Collection

By Grace Ruble ’21

News Editor

On Feb. 1, the Davis Gallery celebrated the opening of its new Art and Labor Collection. The exhibit features works from HWS’s own collection. Art and Labor is Visual Arts Curator Anna Wagner’s first collections curation project at the Colleges and features works by artists such as Kara Walker, Käthe Kollwitz, Arthur Dove, Frank Romero and Stacey Robinson, as well as several unnamed artists. HWS students Shannon Smith ’20, Rachel Geiogamah ’19, Ethan Leon ’19, Sarah MacKechnie ’19, and Dylan Bennett ’19 wrote the wall labels for the collection along with Wagner.

The unifying theme of labor allows works in the collection to span a wide range of mediums, from photos and paintings that depict labor in progress to sculptures and ceramics that show the end results of labor. According to Wagner, the collection highlights many forms of labor that have often gone undiscussed, including “motherhood, farming, industry, locomotion, union organization and slavery,” as well as pieces that exhibit evidence of “madness” and “materiality.” Some pieces, which demonstrate the gallery’s mission to portray labor that is often ignored, include Frank Romero’s Arrest of the Paleteros, which depicts a conflict between Chicano laborers and police, and Alison Starr’s depiction of emotional labor in her painting Inheritance, which is supplemented by an interactive sculpture made by HWS students outside the gallery.

The collection also recognizes that galleries themselves are products of people and their labor and aims to ask how the Davis Gallery can be “a space for engagement, and a space that realizes and demonstrates different forms of labor.”

Interested readers can view the Art and Labor collection at the Davis Gallery until March 1, when it will leave to make way for the opening of the Advocacy, Activism & Alliances in American Architecture Since 1968 exhibit on March 8.

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