Labor of Love

In 1987, volunteers from the Amalgamated Clothing and Textile Workers Union were involved in the design process of the mural as well as its execution. Artists Nina Smoot-Cain and Cynthia Weiss taught volunteers some design basics and led them through a cut paper drawing session. At first, participants were extremely apprehensive. Although they had worked with their hands their whole lives, they never had created work of their own design. Most of the volunteers gradually came to enjoy their own work. Cain and Weiss worked for two weeks at pulling these designs together and their efforts resulted in a design drawing as 1930’s realism and 1980’s new wave.

The work took on a rhythm from the start. The union provided sewing machines and the volunteers came ready to lend their skills: basting, cutting, machine and hand sewing. The exquisitely intricate mural was quilted upon completion and installed in the lobby of the Amalgamated Clothing and Textile Workers Union Hall.