Medium: Watercolor, Pen & Ink
Size: 12″ x 16″
Client: Street Level Health
Art Direction: Gabriela Galicia
This is the final painting of workers for the Oakland Workers Collective. This is a project involving workers from various walks of life for “Street Level Health Project” in the Fruitvale district of Oakland. For this project I met w/ jornaleros (workers) from so many different countries and backgrounds. Myself along w/ several students from UC Berkeley sat and listened to stories of trials, tribulations, and triumphs of being day laborers or domestic workers in Oakland, California. Because there are so many challenges workers face on the job and obtaining jobs, Street Level Health created the Oakland Workers Collective to support these folks so they are not disrespected, cheated, abused, or ignored by local employers on the job; Whether that job is in construction, home renovations, home cleaning, child care, etc. Some of the support that the collective provides includes medical care both physical and mental, legal representation, assistance getting quality gigs, and the support of an organization that stands up for its family.
I wrote down a lot of things while I listened and talked to the workers, both men and women. They gave a lot of ideas but above all, they want to be recognized for the diverse backgrounds from which they come from. They want to show their dignity as workers, and they want to work for and collaborate with honest & respectful employers. I’m not sure if the image serves that purpose but it was an honor to meet with the workers and to illustrate one small fraction of their story. Folks came very far, from Nicaragua, Puerto Rico, Guatemala, Peru, and Southeast Asian countries like Cambodia, Laos, etc. Remember this the next time you see a group of workers on the street, at the park, or in offices. Salute! And much respect for the representation, and the reputation of an organization that stands up for its family.