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2020 Annual Conference


March 05-08, 2020

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2020 SPE Annual Conference: Hosted by The University of Houston | Kathrine G. McGovern College of the Arts | School of Art

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Past SPE Annual Conferences

Lupita Murillo Tinnen

SPE Member since 2001
Member Chapter: South Central

Labor Project

The series of images are a commentary on labor in the United States and wages paid to employees in unskilled positions. Included are images of several jobs, some of which are physically challenging to the body, that are common among immigrants especially those with little education or undocumented status. Race and gender generally play a role in determining job levels and immigrants are among those who often work the hardest jobs, yet are at the bottom of the worker caste system. There is an immense disparity between professional work given more social value and work that is physically demanding, yet at the bottom of the wage system. A stockbroker may earn 150,000 dollars per year while a childcare worker may earn a modest 15,000. I am interested in showing the hands as cultural text for the physical labor in addition to the passage of time. Along with the images of hands, I recorded a mundane movement that is commonly associated with the specific type of job. For example, in the image titled "Grounds Maintenance Worker," I attached a light to the model's hand while they performed a hammering motion repeatedly for 20 seconds in complete darkness. The motion study is a reference to the chronocyclegraphs that were conducted during the time of F.W. Taylor's Principles of Scientific Management to "improve" assembly-line efficiency. The chronocyclegraphs charted the hand movements of workers during long exposures. Lastly, included in each image is the mean wage for that occupation in the West South Central United States, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The final result is a combination of performance and the real hands of hardworking people. Each of the people I photographed is not necessarily in the occupation listed. These are not traditional documentary photographs but rather they are a document of a performance and a typology of working hands to be viewed as a visual text of labor.

Child Care Worker

Construction Laborer

Cook, Fast Food


Farm Laborer




Grounds Maintenance Worker

Sewing Machine Operator

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