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Triangle Shirtwaist Fire and How It Changed Everything??

Berger, Susan L
Year Grant Awarded 2015

Email > susan.lynne.berger@gmail.com
State > NY Zip Code > 12401
Website > http://www.susanlberger.com

It is an installation work and tells the story of the brave women from the Uprising of 1909 of mostly Eastern European immigrants who struck because of the working conditions and the right to join a union. On March 25, 1911 at the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory was the horrific fire that146 mostly women lost their lives.You have testimony of the survivors of the fire and other women who were important players and in the forefront of the struggle. You have a filmstrip running through the top and lower panels of the daily life endured. The middle panels more historical and you have placards carried by these women letting the world know of the horrible working conditions, lower wages than men and they needed a collective voice that was by having a union representing them. All three pieces give you the layout of the 9th floor at Triangle Shirtwaist Factory and the rows of rows of how they were seated and weren't allowed to talk. Subcontracting practices was prevalent so there was a turnover of women. I combined weave stitching and rug hooking techniques with multi-media art to give a three dimensional perspective to the pieces. There are three five unit pieces on each side of the work. You have testimony from women who were survivors of telling us or giving witness of working there. It is done deliberately in shirtwaist garments slightly discolored. I also included stories from "Bintel Brief" which was the Yiddish newspaper and some stories were answered by the editors and a few I acted as an editor. The last two panels are done in ash-like look which represent the charred remains and again the twisted ladders/fireescapes prevail throughout the entire work.As these victims fell they looked like piles of rags but were bodies of these life less souls. I wanted the viewer to be eyewitness to the history and be part of the narrative. The piece is about immigrants and the important role they played in our society. It is sad that injustices still prevail.