Born in Hamilton to Italian immigrant parents, Sara Angelucci is well known for autobiographical work in a range of media including still photography, moving image, sonic performance and installation. With Piece Work, Angelucci revisited her mother’s history as a garment worker, producing a new installation in three parts, in collaboration with contemporary workers at Hamilton’s Coppley Apparel.
Coppley has operated continuously in the same white stone building on York Boulevard since 1883, and has employed every wave of new immigrants to the city, including Angelucci’s late mother Nina, who arrived in Hamilton in 1957. In Piece Work, the factory signifies more than a long-standing local business or the artist’s familial history. It is a capsule of the city’s social history, and the diverse communities that together contribute to the fabric of our industrial roots. While Hamilton’s labour history is often associated with the dominant narrative of masculine steel workers, the apparel industry, and its majority women workforce, was at one time a major player in the city’s industrial economy.
Today, women continue to form the majority of the apparel industry workforce and Coppley is one of five remaining garment manufacturers in Hamilton. Although each maker is often anonymous, the women’s combined piecework – the 123 pieces required in the construction of a man’s suit – result in the carefully crafted image of successful masculinity. Working closely with sewers in the space of the factory, Angelucci presents a series of poignant artworks that bring attention back to the experience of the worker – in visual, auditory, and symbolic ways.
Curated by Alana Traficante, Acting Curator of Contemporary Art
Header Image: Sara Angelucci (Canadian b. 1962), Mano d’oro (detail), 2016, ink jet prints. Courtesy of the artist, Stephen Bulger Gallery and Patrick Mikhail Gallery.