Work Won't Kill You: I Am Here

April 24 - May 6, 2018

Boulder Museum of Contemporary Art

Boulder, Colorado

WORKERS: Elsy, Lizbeth, Maria, Wendy, Miguel and Claudia. Not shown: Jorge, Itzel and Lucy.

WWKY: I Am Here addresses the painful quandary of involuntary childhood immigrants who thought they had qualified for a path to citizenship through Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals. Pulling a flowering plant out of the ground threatens the life of the plant and leaves a gaping hole in the earth. With these facts and that metaphor in mind, the artist Patty Ortiz hired eight DACA recipients to collaborate in constructing a video/installation/performance piece that captures their heartfelt response to the fearsome prospect confronting them and their families. Ortiz has combined video images of threatened plants and recordings of interviews along with the real time presence of the actual DACA subjects themselves as they nurture and rearrange over 300 live flowering plants daily in the Present Box exhibition space at the Boulder Museum of Contemporary Art. 


WWKY: I Am Here is the fourth installment of Ortiz’ current series Work Won’t Kill You which attempts to demonstrate that art is intrinsically a social construct. The act of aesthetic observation initiates an interaction between observer and event, a kind of art equation that results in reciprocal definition and identity. By means of this dynamic, WWKY uses the structure of the workplace itself as a basis to reconsider the meaning of work and creativity. The phrase Work Won’t Kill You came from her father. His motto was, “Work won’t kill you…laziness will.” The first four words inspired her to take a closer look at what work is and what it might be. By creating a workspace within an art setting, the workers and the objects of their efforts reflect the nature and character of the immediate world around them in a significant yet purposely skewed fashion that investigates the interaction between art and work.