During artist Michael Dinges’s (IL) residency, Connecting Communities participants explored how the increased globalization of skills, raw materials, and goods is creating a void in associations that previously bound communities together through the objects they made. This disconnect is especially pronounced in places like Sheboygan, WI, where manufacturing jobs historically provided the backbone of the community and its relationships. The effects of globalization and recent economic downturns have brought wave after wave of layoffs and the loss of entire companies.
Dinges’s project examined how we orient ourselves to this era of rapid changes. The traditional practice of engraving, as found in scrimshaw and trench art, is used by the artist to comment on the changing nature of labor and global trade.
As visitors to the Arts Center shared their information on “time cards” provided in the gallery, The Work Table Project documented Sheboygan-area participants and their skills in one place and time. It serves as a reminder of the region’s rich labor history and as a tangible repository of potential while reflecting the deep pride of labor and the work ethic among the citizenry.
The project also featured the creation of collaborative works of art including sculpture, wood carving, and quilting.
Connecting Communities collaborations are supported in part by an award from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Bert L. and Patricia S. Steigleder Charitable Trust.