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De Vaartkapoen, by Tom Frantzen The Bear & the Strawberry Tree, by Antonio Navarro Santafe
The Garment Worker, by Judith Weller - Scintillating Sculptures
192    Dibyendu Banerjee    24/02/2024

Created by Judith Weller and located at 555 Seventh Avenue in New York City, also known as Fashion Avenue, the 8-feet bronze sculpture called the Garment Worker, depicts a working man wearing a kippah, a skullcap worn by orthodox Jewish men, hunched over a hand-operated sewing machine, carefully stitching fabric.

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While the drudgery is apparent on his stern face, his focus is on his hands, which delicately push down on the material and the table he works on, is open to reveal his legs and feet.

the garment worker

The garment industry has been a centrepiece of American ingenuity since the 1800s, and historically, Jewish immigrants played an important role in it. An enormous influx of Jewish immigrants around the turn of the twentieth century boomed the Jewish population in New York City and many of those new arrivals ended up working in New York City’s prosperous garment industry, which steadily faded in the late 20th century The Garment Worker was installed as a tribute to the Jewish manual workers who constituted the backbone of the garment industry of the New York at the beginning of the 20th century.

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Judith Weller, originally from Israel, based the figure of the tailor on the memories of her father, a machine operator in the garment industry, similarly bent over a sewing machine for years of hard work.

the garment worker

Born in 1937 in Tel Aviv, Israel, Judith Weller first came to the States as an exchange student in 1957. Subsequently, in 1978, she submitted a 24 inches tall sculpture of her tailor father sitting at a sewing machine, for displaying in an exhibition by the National Sculpture Society, which got noticed by someone from the Ladies Garment Workers Union. Later, the Union got in touch with the artist and sponsored a much larger version as a monument, dedicated to all garment workers in America.

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Officially opened on 10 October 1984, the eight-feet high bronze statue of the Garment Worker, sponsored by forty-three unions plus banks and trade associations and created at the cost of approximately $30,000, was presented as a gift to the New York City by the artist, the Ladies Garment Workers Union and the other sponsors..

the garment worker

The Garment Worker, a man in a kippah, working at an old-fashioned sewing machine, representing a larger-than-life homage to the Jewish garment workers, created by Judith Weller, continues to sit and work every day in the same place, between 39th and 40th Streets in midtown Manhattan, in the shadow of the giant button and a 31 feet needle that lean on the information Kiosk of Garment District, located at the corner of Thirty-Ninth St. and Seventh Avenue, as a triumph and dignity of every human being.

the garment worker
De Vaartkapoen, by Tom Frantzen The Bear & the Strawberry Tree, by Antonio Navarro Santafe
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Author Details
Dibyendu Banerjee
Ex student of Scottish Church College. Served a Nationalised Bank for nearly 35 years. Authored novels in Bengali. Translated into Bengali novels/short stories of Leo Tolstoy, Eric Maria Remarque, D.H.Lawrence, Harold Robbins, Guy de Maupassant, Somerset Maugham and others. Also compiled collections of short stories from Africa and Third World. Interested in literature, history, music, sports and international films.
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