By Daniel Magazu/Framingham State
FRAMINGHAM – Showing (work x family), a 28-foot, six-screen photography exhibition with an original soundscape and 186 photographs by 135 photographers will be previewed at the Mazmanian Gallery at Framingham State University, November 7 – December 15, 2017
The 30-minute experience tells the story of daily life from the early morning hours until late into the night, sequenced by a proprietary controlled randomization algorithm and presented on a translucent tensile structure designed by Viemeister Industries, New York. The sound environment was created by musician, performer, and poet Alicia Jo Rabins.
Showing (work x family) reveals the intimate choreography—the push and pull of work and family—in our everyday lives. These hotographs share the intimate routines of mealtimes and bedtimes, commutes and carpools, calendars and keys, school-day mornings and weekend chores, childcare and grandparent shifts, single-parent households and blended families. The photographers whose images are featured in the exhibition offer perspectives on work and family, ranging from quiet moments of intimacy to the tensions of competing responsibilities.
The exhibition combines landmark commissioned photographs of pregnancy in the workplace; a curated selection of work by contemporary photographers who explore the interplay of work and family; and photographs by high school photography students who
participated in wrkxfmly; an education program for high-school photography classes implemented in over 50 schools across the country. For their wrkxfmly assignment, students looked at how work and family overlap in their own lives.
Several schools in the Boston area participated in wrkxfmly including Algonquin High School (Northborough), Concord Carlisle High School (Concord), Framingham High School, and Salem High School.
Many distinguished American documentary photographers, photojournalists and artists contributed to Showing, including Gay Block, Lauren Greenfield, Wing Young Huie, Rania Matar, Greg Miller, Melissa Ann Pinney, Andrea Modica, Sylvia Plachy, Angela Strassheim, and Michael Wolf.
The project was conceived and created by Working Assumptions, a California foundation that explores defining social frames through the lens of art and culture.
Showing (work x family), is the starting point for important dialogue about an often unspoken but deeply influential component of the American family today—one that is changing radically in the 21 st century.
Founder Jane Gottesman explains her inspiration for this project, “Curiously those we call ‘hard workers’ are people who have to hide all
their family work. They aren’t supposed to have family distractions—and yet they are supposed to have good family values. If we valued all work—and all families—the conversation about what work really matters to society would be very different.”
In coordination with the exhibition, Framingham professors Dr. Virginia Rutter and Dr. Bridgette Sheridan organized a six-week series of events at the university. Included are an opening community reception and talk starting at 4:30 p.m. at the gallery on November
7 with Jane Gottesman, the founding director of Working Assumptions Foundation; a keynote panel including several FSU faculty; and a multi-disciplinary “teach-in” with more than 60 classes on the theme of family diversity and change.
In addition to student research and poster sessions, students, faculty, and staff across campus will discuss how private and public responsibilities influence each other and how people navigate career, work, family and life in different, creative, and surprising ways.
Rutter, who also serves on the board of the Contemporary Council on Families, first experienced a pop-up prototype of the exhibition in Washington, DC, at the 2016 Work and Family Researchers Network conference. She saw its potential as a catalyst for discussion across disciplines and departments for Framingham State’s diverse community.
“Family diversity is the new normal in the United States: 60 years ago, the dominant family type was dad at work, mom at home. Today, there is no dominant family type,” notes Rutter, co-editor of Families as They Really Are. “This exhibition recognizes the uncertainty families experience now – that sense of ‘no fixed equation.’ FSU students, faculty and staff live that. As soon as I saw this show, I saw it as a tool for updated and inclusive conversations about what many scholars have documented is a serious problem in the U.S.: inadequate resources to respond to all our families.”
The groundbreaking work at Framingham State University, in conjunction with Showing (work x family), will be used as a model going forward as the exhibition visits other campuses and venues across the country.