Labor Day Sunflower Project

Whether lifting a fork to one’s mouth, wielding a shovel, or reading a project description, we are all working. The Labor Day Sunflower Project, (LDSP) demonstrates the idea that while our efforts may seem separate and isolated at times, they are actually part of a complex interactive web of activity. LDSP participants weave thousands of sunflowers into a massive sculptural circle. While each flower represents an individual’s effort, the entire circle embodies our collective effort. This weeklong public art installation offers residents from the greater Knoxville TN area the opportunity to collectively celebrate their annual labors. At the project’s de-installation, the seeds are distributed to LDSP community growers for the next year, thus completing an annual cycle of growing and working together.

More specifically, on Labor Day morning, community members gather in Knoxville’s downtown city center, Krutch Park. Participants harvest and transport thousands of garden-grown sunflowers, work together on ladders and scaffolding, and weave the sunflowers into a large (15 x 15 foot) circular form onto a freestanding chain-link substrate. The successful execution of this annual art installation requires the hands and minds of a great number of participants throughout the year providing a tangible symbolic representation of our combined annual effort.

LDSP dialogues with the general public about the interconnected reality of “work,” and purposely does so in connection with the Labor Day holiday. LDSP strives to provide a safe public context for reflection and dialogue into issues of privatization, right to work legislation, and labor unions by offering an opportunity to revisit the purpose of our work and the individual and collective meaning of what we do. More broadly, LDSP provides a venue for a social philosophy that celebrates and encourages an understanding of people as fundamentally interconnected and interdependent.

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