The ninth Artists at Work Exhibition was recently held for the 2013-14 year. The show featured 92 pieces of artwork crafted by 50 of Chrysler Group’s unionized and non-union employees. Chrysler, in partnership with the United Auto Workers (UAW), sponsored the event, which is the United States’ only juried art show that’s sponsored by a major company and labor union.
The exhibition illustrates the creativity connection between creating art and manufacturing vehicles. "Art and manufacturing have more in common than you might think," said Keith Mickens, Chrysler-UAW National Training Center (NTC) co-director from the UAW. "The creative process involved in producing a memorable image on a canvas can be used to help build quality vehicles on an assembly line. We’re celebrating both through Artists at Work.”
"There is a remarkable correlation between the artistic process and the manufacturing process," said Michael Brown, NTC co-director from Chrysler Group. "Transforming innovative ideas into reality – an artist's formula for success – is what drives WCM [World Class Manufacturing, the Chrysler Group’s production system], and gives Chrysler a competitive edge in the marketplace."
Four judges (artists and art experts from Detroit) evaluated more than 600 entries to determine the pieces of art that would be placed in the exhibit and then selected the award winners. The exhibit’s compilation of artwork represented a variety of art techniques and mediums—paintings, ceramics, textiles, glasswork, jewelry, photography and more.
Joseph Auito, a joint activities representative for UAW Local 412, won first place for his innovative one-year-in-the-making mini Ferris wheel metal sculpture called “Childhood Anxiety.” The piece used recycled pieces from unique venues, including seats from a toy steam engine. In addition to him placing first, he also secured an honorable mention for two necklace pendants he created that were also in the exhibit.
"I like my work to make a statement," Auito said. "If you look at it and say 'that's pretty' or 'it's not saying anything,' I have failed as a sculptor in my eyes, and that piece hits the scrap pile. What's important to me is that I have created a piece of art you will remember and think about when you get home."
Second place was awarded to Shannon Jones, an electrician at Mt. Elliott Tool and Die in Detroit, for an acrylic painting depicting a welder working, which happened to be the very first painting he'd ever created. Shan Haq, a project chief in Body Closures Engineering, secured third place with a photograph from a Chrysler Group community service event that was made into a Photoshop composite. In addition, there were 11 honorable mentions granted.
Since its inception in 1999, the exhibit has included more than 1,100 pieces done by 536 Chrysler employees. While the art exhibition was not open to the public, it can be viewed at www.uaw-chrysler.com/2013aaw/first.html.
This article is presented by Perkins Motors in Colorado Springs, Colorado.