Horizontal, color photo. View of the ILLUSTRATED WORKERS exhibition, curated by Chico Homem de Melo. On the left and right sides, red panels bear prints of worker illustrations. In the background, in the center, the expansion, by about two and a half meters, of the FABRIL WORKER illustration by Odileia Toscano. In front of him, a long table, which takes the photographer to the panel, brings the original books and magazines, from which the illustrations were taken.
View of the "Illustrated Workers" exhibition at Sesc Santo Amaro. Photo: Wagner Linares

With a set of illustrations from literature, journalism, music production and historical, geographical and sociological essays, Illustrated Workers offers a diversified panorama of the world of work in Brazil in the 20th century. The exhibition, on view at sesc Santo Amaro, curated by Chico Homem de Melo and based on the premise that crafts occupy an important space in people's lives – sometimes confusing themselves with the very notion of identity.

“The work emerged as a theme due to my perception that it is less represented in the literary universe than it should be, than the importance it has for our lives would justify”, explains the curator. Based on this reflection, Homem de Melo gathered around 300 illustrations. “I put them on the table and saw what they had to say,” he explains. Observing them, he noticed possibilities of thematic divisions, some by occupation, others by period or social struggles. “The themes came from the illustrations, so the starting point was images that had information power, that had impact and that were seductive”. Crossing these thematic divisions with the possibilities of expography, the curator reduced his scope of work and defined the 22 panels that organize the show, each one composed of three or four illustrations that gravitate around the same issue, but with different languages.

Horizontal, color photo. View of the ILLUSTRATED WORKERS exhibition. In the background, people contemplate the panels where the illustrations are arranged. In front of them, a table with books and magazines containing the original illustrations.
View of the “Illustrated Workers” exhibition at Sesc Santo Amaro. Photo: Wagner Linares

The initial idea was that literature would be the main axis of the exhibition, but during the research, it became evident that this would not be possible. “While the rural universe is well represented in the activity of illustrators and in the literary universe, the industry is not. It is impressive how there is a certain silence regarding urban work in general, but industrial work in particular”. Thus, the selection began to include, in addition to literary illustrations, productions related to journalism, historical, geographical and sociological essays, in order to offer a diversified panorama of the world of work. So, Illustrated Workers it becomes “a kind of picture of editorial illustration in Brazil in the 20th century”, he explains.

A arte!brasileiros visited the exhibition and talked with the curator about the history and concepts that permeate it. Watch the video: 

Illustrated Workers runs until July 25th and can be visited for free from Tuesday to Friday, from 15 pm to 21 pm, and on Saturdays, from 10 am to 14 pm, by prior appointment by Sesc Santo Amaro website. The use of a mask throughout the visit and the temperature measurement of visitors at the entrance to the unit are mandatory.

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