Fight for Fifteen: Portraits
Fight for Fifteen (FF15) is a part of a national campaign to raise the minimum wage for fast-food, retail, and service workers. Since April 2015, I have been taking portraits of FF15 members in the Chicago area, at their workplaces, in their homes, and at public demonstrations. FF15 organizers are recruiting 30 or more of their members to tell their stories and have their portraits. On early April in 2015, I visited an art studio preparing the massive rally on April 15th. Reassuringly, some high school or college students volunteered to spend one week making a large sculpture, buckets and picket signs. During home visits, I photograph workers out of uniform, often with their families. I also photograph their uniforms hanging in the bedroom closet, or laid out on their beds, ready to be put on. On August 13th in 2016, I have photographed the National Workers’ Convention and massive rallies in Richmond.
These portraits are being used for media projects by FF15 organizers; they will also be shown in public galleries, and collected in a book of photography to be published in 2019. This project seeks to raise questions about labor, success, respectability, democracy, political struggle—what motivates us, and what holds us back. The project also aims to generate a fresh relationship among the images that brings out a more contradictory and anguished view of poverty, democracy and economic struggle in the United States as well as contribute to the sense of community and solidarity among the workers.