An installation at the Memphis College of Art
Sewing for home and family has long been the heritage of women all over the world. Generations of American girls learned needle skills.
These skills made clothing construction a ready occupation that attracted young American and immigrant women to garment factories in the early 1900's.
Shifts frequently lasted 10 to 12 hours each day, 6 days a week. Factory doors were locked to discourage stealing and unauthorized work breaks. As a result many women died in factory fires.
Garment workers formed some of the first labor unions, and today American clothing companies must conform to labor and safety laws. Many companies have production contracts with factories in China, Mexico, India, Thailand and other countries where work conditions have not improved. Thousands of women still die in factory fires every year.
Trimmed with hundreds of keys, these capes stand in memorial to the women who died in those fires. Sumptuous velvet fabric, once worked by their hands for others, is here embossed with images of bread loaves and rose buds.
Copyright © Thomasin Durgin 2001. All rights reserved.