Susan Berger
Kingston Annual 2021 Exhibition

The Kingston Annual 2021 Exhibition
Displayed at Arts Society of Kingston
97 Broadway in Kingston, NY
September 4 – September 26th
Tuesday- Sunday from 1 PM to 6 PM

There were three jurors: Anna Conlan, Director of Dorsky Museum, New Paltz, NY; Ransome, an artist from Kingston and Sevan Melikyan, Director of Wired Gallery, High Falls, NY. There were 30 artists and 30 works selected from over 450 works that were submitted from artists throughout the Hudson Valley.

Susan Berger received one of the top awards from one of the jurors, Sevan Melikyan.

The work is called: “20,000 Strong to the Inferno 0f 1911″ (Drawing)
Size: 30.5” (w) x 40.5″(h) x 3″(d)

The work is about the inside the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory of the rows of women, who were between 16 to 25 years of age. They were immigrants from mainly Eastern European countries living in lower Manhattan particularly the Lower East Side. The brown fabric has images of the twisted ladders from the fire escape as these workers leaped from the fire to escape which ultimately led to their death. Those who witnessed the horrific fire thought that bundles of rags fell but were actually humans falling from the loft building right near Washington Square Park. This happened on March 25, 19ll at 4:15 PM, and 146 perished and 123 were women.

You have the layout of the workplace and the escape doors which were locked. And the lone elevator. It is artwork that tells a story. The middle part has images: one of the images is of women holding signs of striking and behind them of the burly police who roughed up these young girls. Another image is a closeup of three women striking and announcing why they are picketing. The middle image is darkened and ash-like in presence of a screen over it and a print from a page from a newspaper of its time. The print or lettering gives a clearer description of the work. The 20,000 shirtwaist workers marched to Cooper Union to tell the world about the horrible working conditions and dismal wages, and that they wanted a better life and felt that joining a union was the solution. Unity brings strength. These women were immigrants who were feminists and believed they deserved a better existence in the workplace; and told about their plight. Two years later the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory happened and some things were changed and eventually, The Ladies Garment Workers were founded by these very brave souls.

Immigrants are the soul and bedrock of our country.

Susan Berger
I am a fiber mixed media artist. In a way, I want to create a setting. I find material and use stitching for the details in the work. It becomes like a sampler that women did in the 19th Century. Before I do a larger and more detailed work it is a drawing. The middle piece was actually a swatch that I did or someone asked me to do to commemorate the 100 year anniversary of the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory. After I did it, I was told that the 12″x12″ swatch was too heavy and asked for it to be returned. I put the swatch away, forgetting about it and it was tucked away in my studio. My studio was in the basement of Westbeth and along came Superstorm Sandy and rediscovering the work not ruined. A year plus later decided to do something with the swatch, and that is how the piece came about. From there, an installation work came which had taken more close to two years to complete, and the swatch was used in its entirety with rug hooking techniques and again a mixed medium artwork. The story expanded.

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