Labor Matters: A Tribute to Auto Workers
The Automobile The Factory The Workers The Union Patriotism Democracy Teamwork Progress

About This Project

"An artist must paint, not what he sees in nature, but what is there."
- Charles Burchfield

LABOR MATTERS is not merely what you see in an auto factory, it is what is there - powerful people and machines, struggle and triumph, hopes and dreams.  With windows into the history of workers who make America''s cars, BRUCE ADAMS' mural tells a rich, expansive story. He captures the timeless hardships of everyday life, the dignity of work and the productive power of American industry. 

Adams painted this grand mural in the style of SOCIAL REALISM, a movement that has been called art with social principles. In title as in image, Labor Matters declares a moral concern, celebrates the extraordinary achievements of ordinary working people. American working men and women stand here as heroes and symbols of strength and hope.

Social Realism and AMERICAN SCENE painting flourished in the United States during the Great Depression and characterized many murals of the WORKS PROGRESS ADMINISTRATION (WPA) FEDERAL ART PROJECT.  Drawing inspiration from those historic democratic vistas, Adams painted a work of art that will, as the great muralist Diego Rivera believed art should, play a role in empowering working people to understand their own histories.

ART ON WHEELS shares a dedication to accessible public art with the WPA and like its public murals, Labor Matters is a narrative representation of American life.  Fittingly, Charles Burchfield also became known as a painter of the American Scene, a champion of unpretentious small town life and everyday urban reality.

The Art On Wheels exhibit ran from May through October 2003 in Western New York.  All 57 artistic creations were auctioned at the end of the exhibit with the benefits going to The Materials Reuse Project, the Burchfield-Penney Art Center  and the participating artists. 

Labor Matters was sponsored by Cornell ILR Institute for Industry Studies and the United Auto Workers Region 9, working collaboratively with Bruce Adams and Art On Wheels.

How to Contact Us

Feel free to contact us with your general questions or suggestions. You may also request a copy of the companion brochure, A Tribute to Auto Workers.

Return to mural