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“The Union ‘Provides Me With A Living Wage Job - That Is The ‘Bread’ Part For Me And Working On Art Projects Is The ‘Roses’ Part Of Life’” - New Public Art Created By Union Electricians Now On Display At Long Island City’s Socrates Sculpture Park

Published Tuesday, December 10, 2019 1:00 pm
by Bill Parry/QNS.com
“The Union ‘Provides Me With A Living Wage Job - That Is The ‘Bread’ Part For Me And Working On Art Projects Is The ‘Roses’ Part Of Life’” - New Public Art Created By Union Electricians Now On Display At Long Island City’s Socrates Sculpture Park

(LONG ISLAND CITY) - Socrates Sculpture Park in Long Island City has hosted extraordinary pieces of art since a coalition of artists and community members transformed an East River landfill and illegal dumpsite into an open studio and exhibition space in 1986.

But of the 15 sculptures that are currently on display as part of the 2019 Socrates Annual, only one is a piece of public art created by Union Electricians and members of the Workers Art Coalition (WAC), a group of Construction Workers and artists who bring representations and creative expressions of Blue Collar Workers into public culture.

“We are thrilled to host a collaboration of Workers Art Coalition (WAC) and International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local Three at Socrates Sculpture Park,” Socrates Sculpture Park Curator and Director of Exhibitions Jess Wilcox said. “The piece that they’ve created, ‘Muscle Memory,’ is a ‘powerful reminder that the conditions of production are critical to the meaning, reception and impact of a work of art.’”

The IBEW Members installed a one-of-its-kind spiral sculpture of joined electrical conduit using industry-grade electrical equipment and solar panels.

“It ‘feels good to design, collaborate and participate in something in public space that shines a light on a particularly interesting group of people and Workers who are constantly underappreciated and misunderstood,’” IBEW Local 3 Member Paul Vance said.

People like Lowely Cheung, an IBEW Local 3 Member since 2012 who emigrated from Hong Kong at the age of 17, said: “The Union ‘provides me with a Living Wage job - that is the ‘bread’ part for me and working on art projects is the ‘roses’ part of life.’”

Sue Sheinen, who’s been a Local 3 Member since 2008 and who has family members in the Union, said: “Thank you for including me in this art project.  Socrates is a ‘great place I have enjoyed for many years.’   ‘I think it’s great that Local Three gets to show its collaborative and creative side.’”

Utilizing a process of “distributed authorship,” the sculpture is a collaborative process that reflects Tradespersons’ skills and equipment, as well as modern urban landscape that is always in the background.

The sound component, produced by the WAC and derived from interviews with Local 3 Members - in tandem with the Library of Congress, adds another dimension.

“Harry (Van Arsdale, Junior) set up the Educational and Cultural Trust Fund for more than skills enhancement but also the benefit of culturally enhancing the Union’s Members,” IBEW Local 3 Director of the Educational and Cultural Trust Fund Michael Yee said. “This project is the ‘perfect example’ of that.  ‘By connecting what these Members do in their trade to create this artwork, they’ve enriched their cultural and artistic passions as well.’  ‘It also ties the conduit, which is one of the common parts of the industry, with emerging renewable energy.’”

The solar panels provide the energy to illuminate Muscle Memory at night.

The 2019 Socrates Annual will remain on display through March at the park located at 32-01 Vernon Boulevard.

To Directly Access This Labor News Story, Go To: https://qns.com/story/2019/12/09/new-public-art-created-by-union-workers-on-display-at-socrates-sculpture-park/?mc_cid=34fa3bdd74&mc_eid=5e754d8538&fbclid=IwAR3WwQg2elEhS3AWf9hdXdxTY2_49STPO4yi6bEONugL9gTUdbyuwksBuaU

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