August 23, 2019

Panel discussion, film screening, art exhibit all part of month-long celebration of labor

by Pete Rosenbery

CARBONDALE, Ill. – A discussion on legendary labor activist and agitator Mother Jones is among the activities slated for a month-long exhibition at Southern Illinois University Carbondale that will look at labor through art and various media forms. 

The “Labor Day Arts and Media Exhibition” runs from Aug. 29 through Sept. 27 in University Museum. All of the events are free. Exhibits will be available for viewing during museum hours from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Tuesday through Saturday and when events are occurring in the museum auditorium. 

Rosemary Feurer will present “The Life and Times of Mother Jones” at 6:30 p.m., Sept. 13, in the University Museum Auditorium. Feurer is an associate professor in the Department of History at Northern Illinois University and labor historian. Among her works is the book “Radical Unionism in the Midwest, 1900-1950,” the winner of the 2007 Wentworth Prize in U.S. History. 

Will present short award-winning film  

As a part of her presentation, Feurer will present the film, “Mother Jones, America's Most Dangerous Woman,” which she produced and co-directed. Mary Harris “Mother” Jones, she said, is the labor movement’s “founding mother” and its most iconic figure. Her wrap-around talk will be about "Mother Jones and the art & theater of resistance." 

Feurer said her discussion places Mother Jones as the “iconic mother” of the radical labor movement and her role in shaping past and inspiring current activists. She will also discuss why it is important to “think of how memory shapes activism, just as art does.” Feurer will also address any questions about coal mining in Illinois and Southern Illinois, and Mother Jones’ role in helping organize mine workers in Zeigler in the early 1900s. 

Feurer is completing a book called “Illinois Mine Wars, 1860-1935” and is working on a new biography of Mother Jones. She also manages the online Mother Jones Museum.

Panel discussions, films and poetry readings are also set 

Other events include a panel discussion on labor organizing in Southern Illinois and a poetry reading. 

The event schedule is: 

  • Sept. 5 at 6:30 p.m., Morris Library, John C. Guyon Auditorium — Film and discussion on “sorry to bother you” by Boots Riley. George Boulukos, professor and director of graduate studies, SIU Carbondale Department of English and De’Angelo Williams Jr., a 2010 alumnus in Cinema and Photography, will lead the presentation and discussion. Williams was a McNair Scholar while at SIU Carbondale and later earned a master’s degree in film studies from New York University. After a post-graduate career in broadcast television, marketing and advertisement he is a lecturer in Mass Communication at SIU Edwardsville while he continues his work in film and television.
  • Sept. 12 at 6 p.m., Museum Exhibition Gallery — Poetry reading, organized by Judy Jordan, associate professor, SIU Carbondale English department. Poets reading will be Jordan; Jon Tribble, editor of the Crab Orchard Review, and two poets in the English department’s Master of Fine Arts creative writing program, Mary Ardery and Jessica Freeman.
  • Sept. 13 at 5 p.m., University Museum — Artists’ reception followed by Rosemary Feurer lecture, “The Life and Times of Mother Jones” at 6:30 p.m.
  • Sept. 19 at 6:30 p.m., Museum Auditorium — “Labor Organizing in Southern Illinois Today” panel discussion.
  • Sept. 25 at 5:30 p.m., Museum Auditorium — “The Future of Work is Cooperative.” Carbondale Spring will discuss the history of cooperatives and the work they are doing to make “Fat Patties” in Carbondale a cooperative restaurant. 

Works from more than a dozen regional artists featured 

The exhibition will feature more than one dozen regional artists using a variety of mediums including painting, music, video, woodcraft, photography, quilting, woodcut, auto-generated computer images and screenprinting, each with a focus on labor. Works from the University Museum collection and the Illinois Labor Society will also be on display. 

Participating artists are: 

  • Mark Denzer.
  • Ann R. Fisher.
  • Krista Rose Frohling, adjunct instructor, photography, Lindenwood University, Webster University and East Central College; College of Mass Communication and Media Arts alumna.
  • Jonny Gray, associate professor, Communication Studies.
  • Sean Hoisington.
  • Alex Kirt, assistant professor, School of Communication and Mass Media, Northwest Missouri State University and double-degree SIU College of Mass Communication and Media Arts alumnus.
  • Sarah Lewison, associate professor, Radio, Television, and Digital Media.
  • Daniel Overturf, professor, Cinema and Photography.
  • Lee Spalt.
  • Lauren Afton Stoelzle.
  • Robert Spahr, associate professor, Cinema and Photography.
  • William H. Thielen.
  • Tabitha Tripp. 

Several sponsors are involved in the program 

There are several partners, many from the university, involved with the exhibition. They include: 

For more information on the exhibition, contact Cade Bursell, professor, Cinema and Photography, at