imc indymedia

Los Angeles Indymedia : Activist News

white themeblack themered themetheme help
About Us Contact Us Subscribe Calendar Publish RSS
latest news
best of news



CopWatch LA


A-Infos Radio

Indymedia On Air

Dope-X-Resistance-LA List


IMC Network: africa: ambazonia canarias estrecho / madiaq kenya nigeria south africa canada: hamilton london, ontario maritimes montreal ontario ottawa quebec thunder bay vancouver victoria windsor winnipeg east asia: burma jakarta japan korea manila qc europe: abruzzo alacant andorra antwerpen armenia athens austria barcelona belarus belgium belgrade bristol brussels bulgaria calabria croatia cyprus emilia-romagna estrecho / madiaq euskal herria galiza germany grenoble hungary ireland istanbul italy la plana liege liguria lille linksunten lombardia london madrid malta marseille nantes napoli netherlands nice northern england norway oost-vlaanderen paris/Île-de-france patras piemonte poland portugal roma romania russia saint-petersburg scotland sverige switzerland thessaloniki torun toscana toulouse ukraine united kingdom valencia latin america: argentina bolivia chiapas chile chile sur cmi brasil colombia ecuador mexico peru puerto rico qollasuyu rosario santiago tijuana uruguay valparaiso venezuela venezuela oceania: adelaide aotearoa brisbane burma darwin jakarta manila melbourne perth qc sydney south asia: india mumbai united states: arizona arkansas asheville atlanta austin baltimore big muddy binghamton boston buffalo charlottesville chicago cleveland colorado columbus dc hawaii houston hudson mohawk kansas city la madison maine miami michigan milwaukee minneapolis/st. paul new hampshire new jersey new mexico new orleans north carolina north texas nyc oklahoma philadelphia pittsburgh portland richmond rochester rogue valley saint louis san diego san francisco san francisco bay area santa barbara santa cruz, ca sarasota seattle tampa bay tennessee urbana-champaign vermont western mass worcester west asia: armenia beirut israel palestine process: fbi/legal updates mailing lists process & imc docs tech volunteer projects: print radio satellite tv video regions: oceania united states topics: biotech
printable version - js reader version - email this article - view hidden posts - tags and related articles

The Worker's Rug: Fine Art From Day Labor

by RH Wednesday, Aug. 15, 2012 at 10:10 AM

The Workers' Rug/La Alfombra Del Trabajador is an art done by day laborers, organizers affiliated with IDEPSCA, artist Katie Bachler and Jade Thacker, and the Craft and Folk Art Museum.

It's just a rug.
It hangs on the wall.
It's just a rug.
It was made by hand. It hangs on the wall.
It's just a rug.
Day laborers made it by hand and now it hangs on the wall.
It's just a rug.
Day laborers tore clothing by hand to make braids that they fashioned into the rug that hangs on the wall.
It's just a rug.
Day laborers worked in the clothes that they tore into rags and braided together to make the rug that hangs on the wall.
It's just a rug.
Two artists facilitated day laborers to tear their old work clothes into rags, braiding them together to make a rug that now hangs on the wall.
It's just a rug.
Two artists and a group of day laborers sat around and told stories about the work they did as they tore old work clothing into rags, which they braided together into a rug, which now hangs on the wall.
It's just a rug.
There was a lot of work put into that rug.

"I work as a roofer, roof-making/with my cap I've worked on many roofs. Two months ago, I fractured a finger at work/the last time I used it while working. I had had it for a year. I am now ready to disassemble it. I've been doing this job for 37 years."

The Workers' Rug/La Alfombra Del Trabajador is an art done by day laborers, organizers affiliated with IDEPSCA, artist Katie Bachler and Jade Thacker, and the Craft and Folk Art Museum.

Bachler and Thacker wanted to use a rug as a space for social sculpture and call it the Roving Rag Rug. They acquired and programmed it into the Collective Show back in 2011. Later, they put out collection boxes for worn clothes around East and North East LA. They'd hoped to weave this stuff into there own rug. "Roving Rag Rug" contained in it a contradiction that became clear for the artists sorting through the donations. While the rug might "rove," each piece of clothes contained traces of the particular life that had just habituated it. The tension between a generic free space rug, and one sited to a particular working body was settled with Heidi Zeller. She showed up at one of the artists' rug weaving sessions. Zeller is the director of the Craft And Folk Art Musuem's Folk Art Everywhere project, which aims to bring folk art everywhere. Heidi helped connect the artists to IDEPSCA (Sonny Abegaze now leads the project for CAFAM.)

Instituto de Educación Popular del Sur de California is a non-profit with a mission to "create a more humane and democratic society by responding to the needs and problems of disenfranchised people through leadership development and educational programs." IDEPSCA organizes house workers, unloaders, landscapers, gardeners, care workers, and construction workers - all day laborers- through five locations in L.A. County. They provide services, advocacy, and job opportunities. Pedro Joel is an organizer there and is probably key to the Workers' Rug successful collaboration. He organizes VozMob. It is an award-winning platform and tool for empowerment, developed through IDEPSCA. Workers use cell phones to take photos, videos, and write short stories about the conditions of their labor. Joel says that the platform is a "tool to counteract the negative stories about immigrant workers online." Because IDEPSCA has this project encouraging workers to discuss their experiences, Bachler and Thacker's invitation to share stories was not at all unfamiliar there.

"I am Ricardo Rodriques, blue-collar worker from IDEPSCA's downtown worker's center. In a T-Shirt, I loaded and unloaded trailers and diverse jobs, painting, laborious jobs, very difficult tasks. Searching for the American Dream."

Next door is a church holding some kind of event. There is music and preaching in Spanish. Little girls in frilly pastel dresses crowd the sidewalk outside asking parents for sweets and tacos sold by vendors. I am here two-floors up in a room at the downtown workers' center to celebrate the Workers' Rug. On the wall outside this room is an image of Malcolm X. In here are photos of laborers rending garments, and there is the rug itself. The group filling the little room is large, mixed ages and nationalities. In a sharing-circle the artists describe making the rug: the joy of their fellow workers- tearing old clothes, t-shirts, jackets, baseball hats- laughing and crying through stories of work.

Katie said: Objects exist in the world. The rug is an object but it is stories. People might look at it and not know what ideas, feelings, and pain are interwoven in it.

A man named Chrispin said: Thank you for putting the Workers' Rug together. It is a good thing that we are all here together sharing info with friends and family.

Jade said: I've learned (through this project) how to be inclusive of others' community. We went to the Craft and Folk Art Museum with IDEPSCA's workers. A worker wanted a bilingual tour there, which hadn't been done before. I realized the limited possibility of art if it isn't able to be accessed by all people. (The museum has offered these tours since.)

A woman named Madelou said: I asked my neighbor to borrow strings. He makes dresses downtown here. I made dresses when I lived in Mexico City. I've been here 16 years. I started braiding and started thinking about this- does this (distance) cause pain? I don't have a desire to go back, even to be buried. I am not going anywhere. If they send me back, I don't know how, but I will come back here. I am convinced that one is from where one stays, not where they are born. Keep working and contributing despite circumstances, so this house becomes even better.

"This garment has been used in many construction jobs. It has worked so hard that is worn out. Today it will be donated to the rug as a historical remembrance."

I went to the UCLA Labor Center, located by Macarthur Park. It was an opening for an exhibition called Manos A La Obra. Juan Sontay is among the immigrant IDEPSCA workers whose art is there. His photos are of day laborers standing around waiting for work. I am familiar with this view, but Sontay's picture represents something that I never see. That is what he sees, standing behind these workers, looking at them, while he waits for people like me to arrive to give him work.

A piece of agit-prop theater was also performed for the large audience. Maria Sabra starred as Jesusita, a maid. With my broken Spanish, I was able to glean the story and some plot points. Maria labored in Beverly Hills. She worked many hours, and was given left over egg yolks to eat, or nothing else. At times, she was only allowed four hours to sleep. For a forty-hour work-week, with no overtime, she was paid $200.00. She couldn't quit because she needed the money, and her boss threatened to call INS. Though Maria played Jesusita, her story was actually that of another worker there that night. So it was fitting that the play ended with a well received call for people to participate in a rally for home-workers rights in Sacramento, scheduled for the 21st of August.

I asked IDEPSCA organizer Pedro Joel what he thought about the collaboration between the trained Anglo artists and the immigrants. Joel felt the artists were doing "healing work," facilitating a cathartic moment; ripping tired work clothes and braiding it whole. I asked about the exchange between the two supposedly divergent groups, he said: " You are talking about high art versus low art. At IDEPSCA it's about the message. The rug is about the human experience. When humans come together they become collective."

In Europe, there is an emerging movement to address the needs of precarious workers; specifically for those in the emerging "creative class," and those in the shadow economy of immigrant labor. Neither Bachler nor Thacker were paid for all their time - nor were the day laborers. Though language and background may divide, significant work went into weaving the rug here.
Report this post as:
Share on: Twitter, Facebook, Google+

add your comments

Local News

SAG-AFTRA video game performers on strike O22 11:04PM

Stop Circus Animal Suffering – Protestors Urge Audiences to Shun the Wild Animal Circus O20 3:04PM

KPFK LSB statement on DAPL arrests O19 10:25AM

Transit Dependent Residents Need a Guaranteed Right to Stay O15 11:36PM

My letter to JJJ on JJJ O11 12:33PM

Prop 60, Condom Law O10 12:43PM

KPFK-Pacifica Radio Archives being sold off on ebay? O10 10:31AM

KPFK struggles without re-solutions O07 2:25PM

Problems with Measure M O05 5:24PM

Stop Circus Animal Suffering – Protestors Urge Audiences to Shun the Wild Animal Circus S07 5:57PM

Nuclear Shudown News Aufust 2016 A30 3:46PM

WIKIpedia is not what we readers Thought nor is it even current about Pacifica or KPFK A24 3:10PM

"KPFK has a $500,000 deficit “ !! Can this be true? A19 6:10AM

Nuclear Shutdown News July 2016 A01 1:36PM

A 99-page report "Election fraud" from Election Justice USA A01 4:14AM

INDY's KPFK radio program being eliminated ? too ? J10 4:57PM

Bertolt Brecht Testifies Before the House Un-American Activities Committee (1947) 2 min J02 3:04PM

Pacifica-KPFK Archives, director resignation J18 4:50PM


KPFK radio elections for LSB coming Quick ! J18 1:05PM

KPFK Local Station Board Elections In-Progress J13 11:31AM

Black Lives Matter Activist Jasmine Abdullah Sentenced Three Months in Jail on Attempted Lynching Charge J09 2:08AM

Why are the Park Rangers making it even more difficult for the homeless in Los Angeles? J04 3:11PM

Bernie Sanders in Lincoln Heights M23 8:23PM

Los Angeles Sit-In to Fight Voter Suppression M18 4:28AM

War Within California's 46th CD M13 11:42AM

NPR's David Greene & Alison Aubrey along with David Ludwig Shill For Factory Farm Eggs M13 7:55AM

2016 AT&T Shareholders engaged by Communications Workers of America D9 Activists M12 11:43PM

More Local News...

Other/Breaking News

Video: Tom Hayden, Listen Yankee! 2015 O25 10:56AM

(A-Radio) Presentation: the Prison Strike in the USA 2016 O25 8:41AM

Clinton beginning informal talks with congressional Republicans O24 11:45PM

MLB 9 Innings 16 Hack O24 12:17PM

Video: Noam Chomsky: The Alien Perspective on Humanity, 51 min O24 7:43AM

renewed US pressure on Australia to line up against China O24 12:30AM

Art About Privilege Censored on Facebook O23 3:16AM

Paraphysique de la folie O23 2:21AM

Vote if you want to serve on a jury. O22 2:37PM

Washington moves to silence WikiLeaks O22 2:12AM

The class struggle of th Libertarian presidential candidate Gary Johnson O22 2:09AM

What is behind the anti-Russia campaign in the US? O22 1:51AM

The Supposed "Omnipotence" of Politicians O21 10:52AM


Philippines: Duterte’s first 100 days O21 4:01AM

Fbi/police community is a threat to our people O20 11:24PM

The Shortwave Report 10/21/16 Listen Globally! O20 5:01PM

Film/TV Composer Megan Cavallari to Receive the FAHF Humanitarian Award O20 2:18PM

NYC Councilwoman sponsors ground-breaking bill prohibiting wild and exotic animal displays O19 10:22AM

Paraphysique de l'aidance O19 2:57AM

Hallmarks of f b i O18 9:43PM

Sylvia Opens October 21 at Odyssey Theatre; Tanna Frederick Stars O18 11:13AM


What the Narcissists Have Done to Our Jobs and Health O18 4:48AM

Fbi as human monster O18 1:16AM

Fbi as human monster O17 11:50PM

Barbouzerie collusive O16 4:37AM

Pyongyang Retaliates for Killing of South Korean O15 8:38PM

More Breaking News...
© 2000-2003 Los Angeles Independent Media Center. Unless otherwise stated by the author, all content is free for non-commercial reuse, reprint, and rebroadcast, on the net and elsewhere. Opinions are those of the contributors and are not necessarily endorsed by the Los Angeles Independent Media Center. Running sf-active v0.9.4 Disclaimer | Privacy