Making Work Visible—A Labor Arts Contest

Nina Talbot Open to CUNY undergraduates, this contest offers cash prizes in four categories: poetry, essay, fiction/non-fiction narratives, and art. Click here to read the winning entries from last year's contest.

Entries should relate to labor arts—visual art about work and workers, and art by working people. Labor arts are broadly construed to include photographs, posters, buttons, banners and flyers, as well as paintings, sculpture and other fine art by or about working people. Funded by the Shelley and Donald Rubin Foundation, the contest aims to expand student engagement with the under—appreciated history of work and workers in this country, and to re-vitalize the study of labor history at CUNY.

Guidelines & Entry Procedures

Undergraduates in good standing enrolled at any CUNY institution are eligible to compete. Entries must be submitted by March 1, 2013 to Lehman College Associate Dean Terrence Cheng (School of Arts and Humanities) will serve as contest coordinator.

Garment WorkerEntries will be judged according to originality, content, and style by an impartial panel of CUNY faculty. Students may enter as many of the four categories as they wish (one entry per category), but may only win one prize in one category. Winners from previous years are not eligible. All entries must be the student's original work; winning entries will be published on the Labor Arts website. Prizes will be awarded at a ceremony in Spring 2013.

Think Visually!

Students submitting written work should include an image that is related to the themes in their writing. You may include a link to: a) one of the images below; b) one of the images from this gallery; c) an image from the Labor Arts exhibits or collections; or d) an image from another source. Sample images from the web museum

Students submitting visual artwork should include on their cover sheet a brief paragraph (50–100 words) explaining how their work shares and is a part of the Labor Arts spirit.

Prizes & Categories

Prizes in each category: First Place: $1,000 // Second Place: $500 // Third Place: $250 // Five Honorable Mentions per category @ $100 each.

All entries must be submitted via e-mail. The subject line of your email should include the title of your entry and the category you are submitting to (i.e. "My Contest Entry—Poetry").

Writing Categories: Poetry, Fiction/Non-Fiction Narrative, and Essay
Written entries must be Microsoft Word documents attached to your e-mail. Please save your file according to the following sample format: title_category_laborarts2013; i.e. for a fiction entry it would be mystory_fiction_laborarts2013.docx. The .jpg image associated with your written work may be pasted in to the first page of your document, accompanied by the title, artist or photographer, date, source, and URL for the image.

A separate cover sheet (also a Word document) should include the title of the piece, student name, e-mail, phone number, address, college, and major; if the piece was written for a class please identify the class, department, and instructor.

Visual Art Category
Entries in Visual Art must be saved in JPEG format and must be 1000 pixels in the longest dimension (at 72 dpi).

Topics might include, but are not limited to: economic and social problems; issues of immigration; conflicts based on race, class, and ethnic identity; environmental concerns; child labor; women in the labor force; economic justice; globalization and international labor markets; organizing campaigns; crime and corruption; anti-labor campaigns; cultural and artistic visions; ideals and ideologies.

For more information, contact Professor Cheng at