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The Triangle Shirtwaist Jazz Project: A Way to Back the Arts with Kickstarter

Triangle Trivet by Margaret Almon
Red and Black Pinwheel Mosaic Trivet by Margaret Almon.

Kickstarter has gotten my imagination, with the possibility of helping living artists create their work.  Stratoz and I contributed to The Triangle Shirtwaist Jazz Project, by composer Jim Kuemmerle. As he says in describing his project:

Next March 25th is the 100th anniversary of the Triangle Shirtwaist fire, a horrific tragedy that inspired a wave of governmental and workplace reform.

For this past year, I’ve been composing and arranging a series of instrumental jazz pieces that together honor and reinterpret the story of the Triangle factory. They incorporate influences from traditional East European, Jewish, and Italian folk and sacred music, as well as influences from across the spectrum of jazz.

146 people died in the fire, mostly young immigrant women, because the all the doors were locked at closing time because the owners wanted to search the workers as they left. Ironically, the shirtwaist was an article of clothing that many women found a relief, because it was much more comfortable than corsets and hoop skirts, and in my post about Tiffany glass artist Clara Driscoll, she is shown wearing a shirtwaist blouse.

When I was an undergraduate, I took a class in the history of the labor movement in the United States, and was very moved by the account of this fire, as well as the story of the Lawrence textile workers'(mostly women and girls)strike of 1912, and wrote a series of poems for my MFA in creative writing on women workers.  Triangles have been a favorite motif in my mosaics, especially those from quilt blocks like “Spinning Pinwheel” and “Broken Dishes” and remind me of how quilts were usually the work of women’s hands.

In 2007,  Kuemmerle wrote a composition  entitled “Kolmio,” which means ‘triangle’ in Finnish. This piece was written for a modern dance project at Arizona State University.

An interview with a woman who worked in the Triangle Factory as a girl.

Over at Stratoz’s Blog:

Jazz on Tuesdays:  Labor History with Jim Kuemmerle

 

UPDATE:  Goal was met, and we received our CD and have listened to it with pleasure.  Review of Jim Kuemmerle Triangle Shirtwaist Jazz Project.

3 comments

  1. Margaret! This is so strange! Just yesterday, Esther and I were discussing this tragic event and she was telling me how she used this as a basis for a lesson she was teaching to her 7th graders. Thank you for sharing this and I will be passing it on!!

  2. niamh says:

    Interesting project, very different way to commemorate a tragedy but moving. And so practical to raise money like that, thanks for the introduction to the site too!

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