I went to see an art and photographs installation at the National Portrait Gallery called The Sweat of their Face: Portraying American Workers.
The sweat of their face(s)
I was drawn in part to the exhibition’s subject matter. (The line for the Obama’s new portraits was also extraordinarily long.) I wanted to know if the apparent grammatical error of “their face” was intentional. American workers, after all, have many faces, not just one.
Nothing about the exhibition suggests the intention of depicting a single face of the American worker. The faces are as diverse as Americans themselves. In addition, many of the workers show no sign of sweat at all. The exhibition is simply unfortunately named. It does illustrate, ironically, that there is more than one face of the American worker.
While myopic, the exhibition still provokes. The collection by no means runs the full gamut of labor, but it does offer select insightful portraits. Here are some of my favorites.