Working in America

Working in America is a multimedia initiative that takes an intimate look at how we feel about what most of us do, or wish we did, all day long: work.

Issues of work and economic equity anchor several major conflicts of our time- a widening wealth gap, access to education and training, the housing collapse, and the ever-changing global economy pressuring people in their abilities to earn a living by patching together jobs. Through personal, authentic, raw and honest stories, Working in America explores the relationships between the social, cultural, physical and psychological realities shaping everyday life in the United States.

This traveling exhibition profiles the everyday lives and experiences of 24 people, representing the challenges, triumphs, and realities of Working in America. Project& Fellow and Pulitzer Prize-winning photographer, Lynsey Addario, captures the images and the stories of veterans, janitors, tech workers, farmers, caregivers, athletes, and more. The exhibit is complemented by the online community titled, “Your Working Story,” inviting the public to contribute their own stories on what work and working means to them.

Working in America celebrates and brings forth the tradition of Studs Terkel’s influential book, Working: People Talk About What They Do All Day and How They Feel About What They Do (1972). To further commemorate his legacy, Project& and Radio Diaries have co-produced a program including a collection of Terkel’s previously unpublished field recordings to be broadcast on National Public Radio’s, All Things Considered and Morning Edition.

The Exhibit

The initiative and exhibit are created and curated by Project&’s Jane M. Saks and will travel to public libraries across America.

Central to the exhibit are profiles of working Americans created by Lynsey Addario, a Pulitzer Prize-winning photographer. The exhibition design is lead by MacArthur Fellow and architect, Jeanne Gang and Studio Gang Architects.

Chicago’s Harold Washington Library hosts the opening of the traveling exhibition on September 14th, 2016 through January 2017. Throughout 2017 and 2018 the work continues onto libraries in cities across the nation. At each site, there will be robust publicly engaged programming and Project&’s guiding material to offer visitors and participants the opportunity to reflect upon the narratives in the work displayed throughout the exhibition.

Your Working Story

Key to this traveling exhibition is the network of public dialogues that surround it.

“Your Working Story,” serves as a vital online community and archive, where people from across the nation can chronicle their personal stories of the everyday challenges, triumphs and realities of working in America.

The shared media content compliments and engages the public dialogues titled “Work Re-Imagined,” hosted by the participating cities Working in America visits.

The Radio Series

Jane M. Saks, Joe Richman and Radio Diaries will co-produce a radio series to air in September 2016 on NPR’s Morning Edition and All Things Considered. The series features previously unheard field recordings of Stud Terkel’s interviews for his book, as well as present day dialogues with people featured in the original book and within the exhibition.

Creative Team

Working in America is one of Project&’s largest and most far-reaching initiatives to date. In collaboration with artists, Project& creates new models of cultural participation & experience with social impact.

The Working in America initiative was conceived and created by Project& President and Artistic Director, Jane M. Saks.

Lynsey Addario is an American photojournalist regularly working for The New York Times, National Geographic and Time Magazine.

Lynsey began photographing professionally for the Buenos Aires Herald in 1996 with no previous photographic training. She traveled to Afghanistan in 2000 to document life under the Taliban and has since covered conflicts in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Lebanon, Darfur, South Sudan and Congo. In 2015, American Photo Magazine named Lynsey one of the five most influential photographers of the past 25 years. She received the MacArthur Fellowship and the Overseas Press Club’s Olivier Rebbot award for her series, “Veiled Rebellion: Afghan Women.”

Lynsey’s recent work includes reportage on Syrian refugees for The New York Times, the ISIS push into Iraq, the civil war in South Sudan and maternal mortality in Sierra Leone for Time. She released a New York Times best-selling memoir, It’s What I Do, which chronicles her life as a photojournalist coming-of-age in the post-9/11 world.

Jeanne Gang is the lead and founding principal of Studio Gang, an architecture and urbanism collective located in Chicago and New York.

A MacArthur Fellow and recipient of the National Design Award from the Cooper Hewitt Museum, she was named Architect of the Year by the Architectural Review in early 2016.

Jeanne is recognized internationally for bold and functional designs, incorporating ecologically friendly technologies in a wide range of striking structures. She has been sought out by numerous organizations to engage her creative approach for mission-oriented architecture and design.

With Studio Gang, Jeanne has produced some of today’s most compelling design work, including the Arcus Center for Social Justice Leadership, the WMS Boathouse at Clark Park, the Nature Boardwalk at Lincoln Park Zoo and Aqua Tower. She is currently engaged in major projects throughout North America, including the new US Embassy in Brasilia, Brazil; the expansion of the American Museum of Natural History in New York; the Fire Rescue 2 training facility in Brooklyn; the Campus North Residence Hall at the University of Chicago; City Hyde Park in Chicago; and the recently completed Writers Theatre in Glencoe, Illinois.

A graduate of the Harvard GSD, Jeanne has taught at Harvard, Yale, Princeton, Rice, and IIT, where her studies have focused on cities, ecologies, and materials. Her work has been honored and exhibited widely, including at the International Venice Biennale, the Chicago Architecture Biennial, the Museum of Modern Art, and the Art Institute of Chicago. She is the author of Reveal: Studio Gang Architects and Reverse Effect: Renewing Chicago’s Waterways.

Jane M. Saks is a creative collaborator, arts producer, writer, and educator who has worked to challenge and champion issues of gender, sexuality, human rights, race, and power within arts and culture, politics and civil rights, academia, and philanthropy.

She is Founding President and Artistic Director of Project&. In collaboration with artists, Project& creates new models of cultural participation and experience with social impact. She works with artists including Lynn Nottage, Claire Chase, Lynsey Addario, Cheryl Pope, Hank Willis Thomas, E. Patrick Johnson, Yance Ford, and Tania Bruguera.

Previously, Jane served as the founding Executive Director at the Institute for the Study of Women and Gender in the Arts and Media, where she created the award-winning fellowship program. The program facilitated the development and launch of works that went on to win Pulitzer Prizes, MacArthur Genius Awards, Obie Awards and Guggenheims. She serves on boards including: Cultural Advisory Council for the City of Chicago, LGBT Pride Action Tank, Trustee, Nathan Cummings Foundation, The Center for the Study of Race and Ethnicity in America, South Africa Constitutional Court Artworks and Architecture Committee, Radio Diaries, as well as others. She is an invited lecturer at civic, cultural and educational institutions internationally, has been a Visiting Critic at Yale University, and Regional Judge for the White House Fellows program.

She is a published poet and collaborates with artists including Kerry James Marshall, Jim Hodges, and Inigo Manglano-Ovalle. She serves as Producer, Co-Producer, Creative Advisor and Series Producer on many original creative works in various media and art forms. She has received awards including: Business and Professionals in the Public Interest, “40 Who Have Made a Difference Award,” Impact Award, the Chicago Foundation for Women BeyondMedia Justice Award, and the Pride Index Leadership Award recognizing her work with and support of the African American LGBT communities. She has been a Fellow in the International Leadership Program National Arts Strategies, Leadership Greater Chicago, and an Inductee of the City of Chicago’s LGBT Hall of Fame.

Studs Terkel

Louis “Studs” Terkel dedicated his life to the idea there is no voice that should go unheard and no story that should go untold. Central to his efforts were the chronicling and curation of stories and experiences among the common people. A Pulitzer Prize-winning oral historian, journalist, radio broadcaster, and talk show host, Terkel compiled books of interviews with everyday people, created and hosted the radio show spanning 35 years titled, The Studs Terkel Program. Terkel masterfully interviewed everyday people, extracting their personal narratives and publicly sharing stories of historic moments, successfully establishing oral history as a respected genre. His influential legacy increased a public appreciation for storytelling, radio narrative, and the rich and lively oral histories all people have to share.

Terkel received a law degree from The University of Chicago in 1934. He proceeded to host and write widely celebrated radio shows and oral histories. He was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for General Non-Fiction for his book The Good War, in 1985, the Peabody Award for Meritorious Public Service in Radio and Television in 1981, the Medal of Distinguished Contribution to American Letters in 1997, and the Ivan Sandrof Lifetime Achievement Award in 2003. He was inducted into the Chicago Gay and Lesbian Hall of Fame as a Friend of the Community in 2001. He received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Dayton Literary Peace Prize in 2006, the first and only annual U.S. literary award recognizing the power of the written word to promote peace.

Get Involved

Interested in supporting Working in America? Our team would love to hear from you. Please email us directly and we will get in touch with you quickly.

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Your Instagram Submissions

Load More

Ahead of the exhibit opening, we want to hear your own Working Stories on Instagram.

To participate, email us a photo of yourself at work with your answers to the following questions:

  • What does work mean to you?
  • What is one thing about your work that people don’t know?
  • What is your name and what do you do for work?
  • What is your Instagram account name (if you have one)?

Please email us at Social@ProjectAnd.org and we’ll feature your photo soon.

And be sure to follow us on Instagram at @WorkinginAmerica!