When I drive through Los Angeles, I pass blurs of mesh-covered scaffolds and figures obscured by hardhats. Our lives are framed by monumental public works projects and towering buildings, but prior to their completion, these structures are strikingly discreet. Over the course of three years, I visited over one hundred construction sites throughout the United States, to depict the often-obscured constellation of workers, who overlap from every background in order to collaborate and assemble what in any prior age would have been dismissed as an impossibility.
Construction sites are kept separate from the public for safety reasons, and the arrival of the COVID-19 pandemic and the resulting facemasks and social distancing has only further reinforced this dynamic. As an artist, I view this as an opportunity to probe the anonymity and visibility that defines how we experi- ence this moment in history. My hope for Worker is to function as a bridge between the boundaries of insider and outsider, of observer and participant, so that we can witness, through a small window, the collective and individual efforts of the women and men who transform raw materials into our museums, freeways, skyscrapers, and homes.
This project was made as part of the Art of Building residency program.