Working in America

Photo: Tom Harris Photography

Chicago, IL; traveling to other US cities

On View
September 14, 2016 – May 31, 2017


Working in America is a multimedia, interactive exhibition that takes an intimate look at what working means today through the raw, honest stories of hardworking Americans.

The exhibition, created by Project& in collaboration with Studio Gang, opened September 14 at the Harold Washington Library Center and will travel to other US cities.

Featuring powerful photographs by Pulitzer Prize-winning photographer Lynsey Addario, the exhibition chronicles the everyday challenges, triumphs and realities of working for twenty-four Americans, including a veteran-turned-urban farmer, a retired oil field worker, a high school principal, a car service driver, and a professional escort.

Through the individual stories of the workers, issues of economic equity, including the widening wealth gap, and other major conflicts of our times, such as inequitable access to quality education and the impact of globalization on job security and wages, are revealed as unifying themes.

“The narratives of this exhibition allow us to explore the trials and tribulations we face in our work. It also shows what is universal about work and illustrates how labor, in many ways, gives us a sense of purpose, a means to participate in society, and becomes the tie that binds us all together.”

—Jane M. Saks, creator of the Working in America initiative and artistic director of Project&

Photo: Tom Harris Photography

Studio Gang designed the exhibition to travel, creating eighteen modular displays that also serve as their own shipping containers. Like a steamer trunk, the displays unhinge when they arrive via freight at their next destination, with the interior spaces of the trunks serving as the gallery walls.

Photo: Tom Harris Photography

“We wanted to give visual space and dignity to each of the individuals represented in the photographs. We thought of protective cases, like steamer trunks for special cargo, that could travel to different library venues. Thinking about the working lives of the people who will receive, open, and set up the exhibition, we designed the cases to be light and easy to reconfigure.”

— Jeanne Gang

Photo: Tom Harris Photography

Visitors to the exhibition can upload their own stories and photographs to the online archive directly on site, while members of the public can participate through social media. Join the conversation. Photo: Tom Harris Photography.

About Project&

Project& collaborates with artists to create new models of cultural participation and experiences with social impact. We amplify artistic voices that risk, engage, investigate and inspire, highlighting issues at the forefront of our time including: race, gender, human rights and economic inequality. We create models and new work that cross platforms and focus on human experiences putting new narratives, agency, and equitable participation at the center. We hold multiple creative roles that are shaped by the context and vision of the work, and vary from project to project. They include creator, initiator, partner, producer, distributor and convener.

About Lynsey Addario

Lynsey Addario is an American photojournalist who regularly works for The New York Times, National Geographic, and Time Magazine. Lynsey’s recent work includes reportage on Syrian refugees, the ISIS push into Iraq, the civil war in South Sudan, and maternal mortality in Sierra Leone. In 2015, American Photo Magazine named Lynsey one of the five most influential photographers of the past 25 years. She has received the MacArthur Fellowship and the Overseas Press Club’s Olivier Rebbot Award. She is also the author of the 2015 New York Times best-selling memoir “It’s What I Do,” which chronicled her life as a photojournalist coming of age in the post-9/11 world.

Video by Spirit of Space