The Labor Monument to be built in Philadelphia in the Summer of 2010

Artist John Kindness working on The Labor Monument
Artist John Kindness working on “The Labor Monument.” Photo © Association for Public Art

A unique monument will be built in Philadelphia in the summer of 2010. The Labor Monument: Philadelphia’s Tribute to the American Worker by artist John Kindness was developed for Elmwood Park with the Friends of Elmwood Park in cooperation with the City of Philadelphia’s Department of Recreation.

The Labor Monument commemorates the contributions of organized labor nationwide and Philadelphia’s working class history. Celebrating Philadelphia’s pivotal and unique role in the American labor movement, the artwork will transform Elmwood Park into a community gathering space and an “outdoor history lesson.”

Workers of earlier generations often wore blue denim clothing, a common denominator regardless of trade or skill, with metal work buttons that bore a variety of images and slogans. Inspired by these buttons, the artist created seven large-scale Work Button Tables in bronze. Each bronze relief sculpture represents an important event in labor history.

Located in the center of Elmwood Park, the Work Button Tables will be installed in a circle surrounded by seven benches. Blue paving and brick detailing around the seating elements suggest the denim and stitching on workers’ clothing. Project supporters will be identified and inscribed in a granite band around the perimeter of the artwork. A pathway connects the central seating area with a small circular court displaying the park’s flagpole.

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