Labor of Love

Title:  Labor of Love

Site:  Amalgamated Clothing and Textile Workers Hall
333 S. Ashland (interior), Chicago

Artists:  Nina Smoot-Cain and Cynthia Weiss

Assistant: Marjorie Anderson

Community Participants: Retired union members

Sponsors:  Chicago Public Art Group

Year:  1987

Scale:  4 x 22 feet

Materials:  Donated textiles

Information:  Volunteers from the Amalgamated Clothing and Textile Workers Union were involved in the design process of the mural as well as its execution. Cain and 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.