August 16, 2022
“Working America: A Sam Comen Photography Exhibition” to Open at Cherokee Strip Regional Heritage Center
ENID, Okla. — “Working America: A Sam Comen Photography Exhibition” will open at the Cherokee Strip Regional Heritage Center on Thursday, September 1, 2022.
“Working America” is a meditation on American belonging and American becoming. It poetically acknowledges the lives and contributions of working men and women as a part of our country and our collective experience. In this exhibition, Sam Comen presents a series of portraits of American immigrants and first-generation Americans at work in small, skilled trades as icons of the American experience. The subjects share stories of economic independence and struggle, belonging and exclusion, faith and fear, and service to both community and family.
A variety of themes are explored in the portraits and accompanying interviews, including the dignity of work, inequity among immigrant nationalities, the political relevance of labor migrants and the intergenerational legacies of inherited skills. The exhibition also investigates how the subjects learned new skills to adapt to their land of opportunity, as well as the relationship between a nation’s identity and the identities of the individuals who comprise that nation.
This body of work has particular relevance today in a political landscape where anti-immigrant and pro-worker sentiments figure prominently. Comen has revisited some of his portrait subjects more recently to update their stories in the extraordinary context of the global pandemic and subsequently devastating economic hardship, adding new dimensions and timeliness to the project.
Sam Comen is a documentary portrait photographer from Los Angeles, Calif. His photographs are collected by the Library of Congress, Los Angeles County Museum of Art and private collectors, and he is regularly commissioned by brands and publications internationally.
The exhibit will remain on display through Thursday, October 20. The Cherokee Strip Regional Heritage Center is located at 507 S. Fourth St. in Enid. For more information, please call 580-237-1907 or visit www.csrhc.org.
The Cherokee Strip Regional Heritage Center is a division of the Oklahoma Historical Society. The mission of the Oklahoma Historical Society is to collect, preserve and share the history and culture of the state of Oklahoma and its people. Founded in 1893 by members of the Territorial Press Association, the OHS maintains museums, historic sites and affiliates across the state. Through its research archives, exhibits, educational programs and publications the OHS chronicles the rich history of Oklahoma. For more information about the OHS, please visit www.okhistory.org.