Overlooked: The Workmen Series

In the summer of 2015, a road crew showed up outside the building where I lived. They were installing immense drainage pipes, which required them to jackhammer the street, move dirt, and position concrete pipes by crane. I found their work mesmerizing, a drama unfolding before me: a ballet of heavy machinery staged to the symphony of noise, heat, and clouds of dirt.

For weeks, I watched them work and finally mustered the courage to ask their foreman for permission to take photographs of the men and the worksite. I took thousands of photos over the three months they worked, negotiating their way through perilous situations that could easily have gone very bad if the slightest signal was crossed or missed. 

They worked from morning until twilight in the late summer heat. In the afternoons the foreman would call a halt to give the workers a break. To my surprise, when they stopped for a rest, onlookers would sometimes make disparaging remarks. These hard working, skilled men were sweating and covered in dust. 

When I started taking pictures, it was because I liked the compositions in my viewfinder. But as time went on, I realized that the paintings I wanted to create were actually an homage to the unseen men and women that work hard to better our communities every day.

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