All Hands On, 2015 - 2016

various locations in Portland, ME

All Hands On was an artwork/event that took the form of a labor day parade with concurrent exhibition in the ballroom of the Maine Charitable Mechanic Association building.  Trades and craftspeople, students and groups of artisans as well as under-recognized laborers worked together over an extended period of time to collaboratively design images and slogans for 13 hand-painted cloth banners, each measuring 45” x 60”. Each banner was mounted on 12' wood poles and carried high in a procession down Congress street. Pre- and post-parade, the banners were on public display in a structure that positioned them so that one can walk underneath.

The banners are inspired by the Maine Charitable Mechanic banners of 1841 that were carried by groups of artisans during Portland parades. They are housed at Portland’s Historical Society.

The exhibition and related parade aimed to position hand-held signage somewhere between political protest and advertising and under the umbrella of craft. It was a way to make visible certain kinds of labor, to recognize formal groups such as trade unions and guilds, to strengthen the bonds of worker communities, and to involve diverse populations of Portland in a collaborative, community-engaged art project.

Photos courtesy of Eric Theise and Jay York