SIERRA MURPHY | Bread and Roses

Bread and Roses

My installation is dedicated to women who work in care-giving positions. My concept is inspired by James Oppenheim’s poem Bread and Roses, specifically the lines:

As we go marching, marching
We battle too for men
For they are women's children
And we mother them again
Our lives shall not be sweated
From birth until life closes
Hearts starve as well as bodies
Give us bread, but give us roses

As we go marching, marching
Unnumbered women dead
Go crying through our singing
Their ancient call for bread
Smart art and love, and beauty
Their drudging spirits knew
Yes, it is bread we fight for
But we fight for roses, too

I constructed a curtain of lengths of chains adorned with resin-embedded and individually dipped natural materials including wheat specimens, gold flakes, and locally-grown rose petals. The links move gently in the wind and hang low enough for people of various mobility to gently interact.

Along with the constructed curtain, I have included a multi-lingual explanation of the piece that includes an excerpt of the above poem, the median hourly wage of home health care workers ($11.63), and the racial disparity of Covid deaths in the US.

LOCATION: South Ridge Park | Urbana