Opening Reception: Friday, July 7th, 4 - 6 PM
Gold watch/pine box. This was the phrase that led to the current focus of Derek Courtney's work. Previously his work dealt with the themes of land use, consumption and depletion, as well as labor and production. Recently the focus of his art has shifted to address the the human costs of labor.
In his recent work, Courtney attempts to draw parallels between the modern labor movement in the US and the labor movement as it existed in early 20th century Appalachia. His goal is to highlight the detrimental effect supply side and neoliberal economic policy have had on the working population in general. Financially, today's hourly wage earner is every bit the debt slave that a miner in West Virginia was in the 1930s. These days, the company store has been replace by the banking industry.
In addition to the financial burden today's worker is also battling the physical and emotional toll involved in the modern workplace. Increased productivity leads to greater frequency of injury and illness. Prolonged exposure to less than ideal environments can produce chronic disease. Longer hours can lead to stress related illness and depression. All of this, of course, leads one to discover ways of coping. This can lead to addiction to any number of substances.
So at the end of a 30+year career, after paying off student loans, house loans, car loans and various home equity loans, what are you left with? After fighting through injury, sickness and the deterioration of age what are you left with? After overcoming all the exhaustion, stress and depression what are you left with?
Gold watch/pine box.