Saturday, October 26, 2013

Performance by Wyoming artist remembers the 1913 IWW strike at a New Jersey factory


Suzanne Morlock is a socially engaged artist from Wilson, Wyoming. This bucolic Rocky Mountain valley town is a long way from Paterson, N.J. But that's where Suzanne is traveling to mark a labor tradition shared by the hard-rock miners of the West and the factory workers of the industrial East.

The Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) were known as "Wobblies" and nobody seems to know how it got its nickname. Its organizers were fed up with the tactics of the larger unions and decided to take their fight to the streets and the factories and the mines. Joe Hill may be the best-known members of the Wobblies. Remember the folk song that Joan Baez made famous at Woodstock:
I dreamed I saw Joe Hill last night,
alive as you and me.
Says I "But Joe, you're ten years dead"
"I never died" said he,
"I never died" said he.
Hill was framed for murder by the "Copper Bosses"and executed in 1915 in Utah. His martyrdom has been used as a union rallying cry for a century. Hill himself was a talented poet and songwriter, dedicating his work to the union.

The Wobblies were active throughout Utah, Wyoming, Montana, Idaho and Colorado. They also were part of the Paterson, N.J., Silk Strike in 1913. Some 1,800 strikers were arrested, including organizers Elizabeth Gurley Flynn and Big Bill Haywood. In 1907, Haywood was tried for the murder of the retired governor of Idaho, who had been a fierce opponent of organized labor, especially Haywood's radical Western Federation of Miners. The WFM was involved in the Colorado Labor Wars in the Cripple Creek mining district in which 33 people were killed. The defeat of that strike led to the formation of the IWW a few years later

Which now leads to a performance and art exhibit by a Wyoming artist in New Jersey.

Here are the details from a press release via the CultureFront web site:
On Sunday, October 27, visual artist Suzanne Morlock from Wilson, Wyoming, will create a new kind of textile operation at The Art Factory in Paterson, New Jersey, from 1-3 p.m.

Morlock has reimagined the traditional art of fabric creation with her own brand of magic at venues from the Central Museum of Textiles in Lodz Poland to the Charles Schulz Museum in Santa Rosa California. Morlock brandishes a set of over-sized “needles” made from PVC pipes and re-imagines cast-off materials into new and curious forms.

This performance pays homage to the Paterson Silk Strike which took place 100 years ago in protest of poor working conditions for workers in textile manufacture industry in the town of Paterson, New Jersey. Morlock’s intent with this performance entitled Industrial Workers of the World, the name of the union at the time of the strike, is to also highlight other areas of the world where substandard working conditions run rampant. At the conclusion of the performance, the finished textile will be displayed for the remainder of the exhibition. Visitors to the exhibition will be invited to tie on strips of paper with the names of other manufacturing areas of the world where unacceptable working conditionals continue.

The Textile Show has been designed to celebrate Paterson’s rich textile heritage, highlight the role that the Art Factory is playing in that continuing history and showcase the talents of emerging and established textile-based artists – both domestically and internationally. This annual textile art exhibition opened in September in various locations within Art Factory properties. The exhibition will be open daily by appointment until the closing reception on Saturday, November 16. Contact 973.ART.1500 or email to arrange for a tour.

The Art Factory is a spacious, inspiring collection of 19th century textile mill buildings in the heart of Paterson’s Historic District. The Art Factory is restoring these historic textile spaces and converting them into galleries, studios, lounges, classrooms, workshops and event spaces.
You can see some of Suzanne's work in Wyoming at the Wyoming Arts Council's biennial fellowship show through Jan. 26 at the Nicolaysen Art Museum in Casper. She will be attending the exhibit's reception on the evening of Nov. 8. Come on out, view the work, consume some munchies, and talk art and Wobblies.

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