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

Work Won't Kill You: I Exist (WWKY) addresses involuntary child immigrants who qualified for a path to citizenship through the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). For this project, Ortiz hired eight DACA recipients to collaborate in constructing a performance/ installation to confront the crisis of citizenship facing DACA recipients and their families. The artwork featured three hundred potted plants installed at the Boulder Museum of Contemporary Art. Each plant signified an individual and the precarity of  living under these stressful conditions. In the background of the site, a video of abstracted images of flowers and plants overlayed with voices from the eight DACA recipients. As they tell their story a hand unceremoniously uproots a plant, soil flings and the survival of the plant is put into question. 

This fourth installment of Ortiz’s Work Won’t Kill You demonstrates that art is intrinsically a social construct. The act of aesthetic observation initiates an action 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 consider the meaning of work and creativity. The phrase Work Won’t Kill You was generated from her father. His motto was “Work won’t kill you…laziness will.” The first four words inspired Ortiz 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. 

Work Won't Kill You: I Am Here

April 21 - May 6, 2018

Boulder Museum of Contemporary Art, CO.

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