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Power & Service

June 20 - July 31, 2020

An artist in residence, at work, in a cafe.

          There are surprising sources of power to be found when you let go of the mainstream narrative about power and the value of service work. Four and a half years ago I took a full time job in food service as a way to get out of a job that made me cry every day. I always loved food but had resisted the opportunities to work with it. Moving into the food service world helped me unlearn some of my assumptions about work and power and the value of different kinds of labor. This show asks you to enter my world, and see some of what I’ve seen and experienced. 

          Don’t be fooled though, the day-to-day is far less aesthetically pleasing (and a lot greasier) than I make it. But by making beautiful or intriguing images I can shed light on what I like about the work, and I can unearth the very things that were invisible to me before I started: the collective endeavor, the systems, the dynamics between the various people involved.  I’m not here to tell you the food service industry is hard, problematic and unequal. Though of course that is part of it. But I also see the little glimmers of alternate forms of power. How we take care of and feed and see each other. The power to see beauty in repetition, the power to shape our own narratives.

          This work is about all of that. Not just the power and lack thereof. Not just the monotony and the humor. The idea of this show came from a desire to make beautiful and interesting an experience some people see as boring, stressful, worthless. Instead of those narratives, I can offer you my vision and experience, like a carefully crafted meal. It may not be exactly what you ordered, but at least you’ll get to taste something new.

                                   -Catherine Aiello

Or, check out each project individually:

Work Snacks

Windows In, Windows Out

Caviar Support

Approved Headwear (or Face Coverings) for Workers

Strange Times, Homemade Signs

Hands at Work

The Break Room

Some works from this exhibition are for sale through my Etsy shop. For the duration of the show, all proceeds (after shipping and fees) from the shop will go to undocumented workers impacted by the COVID-19 shutdown in Massachusetts.  Please check out the following organizations:

MassUndocufund

Undocu-Worker Solidarity Fund

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© 2020  Catherine Aiello