Unseen America: Photos and Stories by Workers

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9780060594060: Unseen America: Photos and Stories by Workers

Through the lenses of do-nated cameras, this inspiring collection of photographs serves as a testimonial to the lives of people society often overlooks: the working class.

They are everywhere -- the low-wage workers who make our clothes, look after our children, and open our doors. They are the millions of people who form the fabric of our society -- but theirs is a world rarely seen.

In unseenamerica, a program created by Esther Cohen, thousands of workers were given cameras and lessons in photography, and then asked to document their lives. Through this collection of black-and-white images -- sometimes poignant, sometimes celebratory, and always honest -- the workers gave voice to their lives.

"A lot of people assume you are what your job is: taking out garbage or fixing plumbing," says Sam Contreras, a building maintenance worker and participant in the program. "They don't realize that there's an artful soul to everyone."

From a worker who photographed a horse and buggy because she says she feels like the horse, to a well-known Chinese architect turned trucker whose photograph of a bridge represents his path from that life to this one, the moving stories and images in unseenamerica give an authentic -- and much-needed -- look into the lives of working people.

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About the Author:

Esther Cohen is the executive director of Bread and Roses, the nonprofit cultural arm of Local 1199 of the Service Employees International Union, the largest union in the United States, representing 1.8 million low-wage workers. Bread and Roses is the leading working people's cultural program in the country. The photography exhibition entitled unseenamerica has been featured in the New York Times, Washington Post, and Fast Company, on ABC World News Tonight and NPR, and in many other media outlets. Cohen is also the author of the novel Book Doctor. She lives in New York City.

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