Saturday, September 10, 2011

Where Art meets work and the rights of workers

Rare are artists who feature work and workers. Judy Taylor of Maine is one of the rarities. I have just today become aware of her and a mural of hers that the governor of Maine banned from the walls of the state’s department of labor.

As a non-credentialed art critic, I find the mural on her website,
so awesome that I can hardly type this report. I could not reach her immediately to get permission to reprint her copyrighted work.

But, while the original 11-panel mural is now packed up and hidden at an undisclosed location, nearly full-size reproductions are on display until September 20 at the VisArts Kaplan Gallery in Rockville, Md. In publicizing the event, titled “Celebrate Labor: Where Art and Politics Meet,” the gallery’s Website, at, prints three of her panels portraying “the secret ballot,” “the first Labor’s Day,” and “the Woods Worker.”

Each of the 11 panels is an allegory for a struggle or an achievement in the history of the worker, especially in Maine. Panel 8, for example, depicts a pregnant woman receiving advice from Francis Perkins, a Maine icon who was the first U.S. cabinet member.

Taylor, commissioned to do the mural for $60,000, finished it in 2008, two years before a Republican, Paul LePage, became governor, and found the mural offensive. Ironically, his ban has awarded it national publicity. Belatedly, I featured the news on my Facebook page, and will display more of the panels as soon as I get permission to do so.

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