Collaboration, Respect

Workingman Collective is a loose-knit yet ambitious group of artists who espouse the simple edict that ‘your idea is our idea’. Founding members Tom Ashcraft, Peter Winant and Janis Goodman are all seasoned artists and long-time academics in the greater Washington area who combined forces to embed social convention with a backbone of artistic intent.

This train/table + chalkboard was exhibited at Hemphill Fine Arts over the summer as a concrete example of this concept. The seeming incongruity of a custom picnic table topped with a toy train set begins to make sense when you are present in this environment; the gentle, whirring sound of the wheels seeps in and sparks creativity best realized through sketches and words on the board.

Coupled with the random, free-form dialogues instigated at weekly luncheons in the gallery this merging of media is a prime example of what the artist Gordon Matta-Clark referred to as détournement, or “the reuse of pre-existing artistic elements in a new ensemble.”

This re-purposing of the everyday was recently put into practice when Peter, Tom and I went to Haiti where the table and the chalkboard were blended into what we hope will be a beneficial resource for some of the children struggling with the recent disaster and the ongoing challenges inherent there.