Past Event

Representing Invisible Labor: How the Arts Speak the Language of Labor

This event includes a musical performance by Jon Langford, readings by acclaimed poets and conversation about invisible labor.

This multi-media event “Representing Invisible Labor: How the Arts Speak the Language of Labor” will explore how artists have represented the many forms of work that go unnoticed in everyday life, such as city street- workers who change light bulbs, office-workers who clean after-hours, and domestic and immigrant labor, which supports the service economy. The intersections of gender, race and class in this struggle will be examined and discussed.

Jon Langford, best known as a member of the influential punk band the Mekons, will share the stage at the with a diverse and eclectic group of artists, poets, and activists that the NWA and the Public Square at the IHC has assembled to give voice to pressing issues facing the labor movement.

Langford, who previously collaborated in The Executioner’s Last Songs, a collection of songs of murder, execution and mob justice with partial proceeds benefiting Artists Against the Death Penalty and the Illinois Coalition Against the Death Penalty, will join acclaimed poets such as Jeff Manes, who has written about his life as steelworker; Susan House, a long-time writer with NWA; Angela Young, a participant in NWA’s Bronzeville writing workshop since 2004; Ben Calhoun, Deputy Director of News at WBEZ, who is working on a photo-journalism project entitled “Daily Meaning: Life Inside America’s Service Industries”; James Thindwa, Executive Director of Chicago Jobs with Justice; a representative from Chicago Labor Union Women (CLUW), who will talk about gender issues in organized labor and Jamie-Owen Daniel, scholar and long-time activist around labor struggles.

Emily Udell and Aaron Sarver, co-producers of the progressive radio program Fire on the Prairie, will moderate the conversation. Guests on their show, which is sponsored by In These Times magazine, have included Howard Zinn, Jan Schakowsky, Tom Frank, Medea Benjamin and Cornel West. Listen in at:


For more information, please contact Carrie Spitler of the NWA (773) 684-2742.