Art is Labor: New art Exhibit at the Arcade Building

The roles of local black and immigrant artists and activists in the labor movement are the subjects of an art exhibit that will open at the Webster University Arcade Contemporary Art Projects Gallery in downtown St. Louis on Dec. 7. The show will be on display through January 17 and will be free and open to the public.


The exhibit will focus on St. Louis’ social justice and labor history, with an emphasis on the vital historic and contemporary contributions of immigrant communities and communities of color.


From 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. on opening night, the gallery located in Webster University’s Gateway Campus will host a cocktail gala and fundraiser to support the non-profit Bread & Roses of Missouri. During that event, Jamala Rogers and Percy Green will be honored for their activism for workers' rights. An artists’ reception and talk will be held at 5 p.m. Dec. 12.


“The show will highlight labor history as seen through art and artifacts, with a focus on Saint Louis,” said Francesca Passanise, coordinator of the Arcade Contemporary Art Projects Gallery. “We are so fortunate to partner with Bread & Roses of Missouri in bringing to life this important exhibition that explores topics such as social and economic justice, racial and immigration justice, labor history and the labor of art. Contemporary artwork will be curated alongside historical collections of ephemera, text and artifacts to build a narrative that speaks to the workers of our time, including artists as workers.”


The exhibit will be curated by guest curator Dail Chambers. Included in this exhibit are works from acclaimed St. Louis artists, including the likes of Basil Kincaid, Sarah Paulsen, Gary Passanise, and Shabez Jamal. The exhibit also will feature four incredible pieces from University of Missouri St. Louis’ Mercantile Library's Bruce & Barbara Feldacker Labor Art Collection:


  • Thomas Hart Benton (1889 - 1975), Strike (Mine Strike), lithograph, 1933
  • Elizabeth Catlett (1915 - 2012), Organize the Unorganized (My role has been important in the struggle to organize the unorganized), linoleum cut, 1946
  • Ralph Fasanella (1914-1997), New York Going to Work, serigraph, 1982
  • Ben Shahn (1898 - 1969), For All These Rights We’ve Just Begun to Fight, lithograph, 1946.


The gallery is located in the Historic Arcade Building at 812 Olive St., across from the Old Post Office building in downtown St. Louis. The Arcade Contemporary Art Projects regular hours are Tuesday and Thursday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Friday from 4 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.


During the cocktail gala on Dec. 7, patrons will be treated to an exclusive live performance from the 2020 Workers' Opera. Tickets for the December 7 cocktail gala are available at

For more information on Bread and Roses, visit more information on the Contemporary Art Projects Gallery, visit or contact Passanise at

Friday, January 17, 2020 at 4:00pm to 8:30pm

Arcade Building (Gateway Campus), Webster University Arcade Contemporary Art Projects Gallery
812 Olive St., 63101

Event Type

Art & Performances, Community, Paintings, Pottery and Sculptures, University Events


Leigh Gerdine College of Fine Arts, Art



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