Dianne Charnosky, Demo Man, Digital Image

Exhibition will on display at Curve Gallery until May 31

Introducing Working for a Living:

Work can crush us.  Work can provide a sense of purpose and accomplishment.  For some, work is an all-consuming passion.  For others, it is drudgery necessary for survival.  Maryland Federation of Art (MFA) seeks artists in any medium who capture any aspect of what “work” means to them, including their own working practices or those of fellow artists. Most of all, MFA seeks images of the emotional impact of work, in every possible way, on the worker.  The selected images will be on view in the online Curve Gallery from April 15 – May 31, 2018.

Click this icon to view and print the downloadable prospectus.

 Click this icon to view and print the downloadable catalog.


John James Anderson is an interdisciplinary artist, arts writer, and curator who lives and works in Michigan. A former professor of art and design, he has taught at American University, Corcoran College of Art and Design, George Mason University, George Washington University, and Prince George’s Community College. His arts coverage has appeared in Art in America, Sculpture, Washington City Paper and The Washington Times, and he was recently selected for an arts writers workshop through the Andy Warhol Foundation and Creative Capital. A recipient of several grants from the DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities, his work has been covered in the Washington Post, Miami Herald, the A/V Club, and Hyperallergic.

Juror’s Statement

In the first half of the 20th Century, labor was a common subject for works of art. Labor on the farm and in factories was a repeated element of Communist and Fascist propaganda (it still is, in fact). In the U.S. the theme consumed Regionalist painting—most notably of Thomas Hart Benton—and of photography commissioned by the Works Progress Administration. 19th Century paintings, like Caillebotte’s “The Floor Scrapers,” Courbet’s “The Stone Breakers,” or Eakins’ “The Gross Clinic;” along with numerous paintings featuring bartenders, dancers, oar-pulling boatsmen as their subjects: all depict some matter of work. Further back in the Western tradition, art is cluttered with work or the products of it: whether depictions of middle-class Dutch tradesmen surrounded by their wares, the portraits of courtiers, or the armies of kings engaged in battle. Even Michelangelo painted God making heaven and earth.

Vocation. Avocation. Live to work. Work to live. Factory. Farm. Right to work. Minimum wage. Fair wage. Wall Street. Main Street. Migrant labor. Day labor. Sweatshop. Blue collar. White collar. Our vernacular is filled with terms that involve some way to describe work: some go so far as to load these words with the baggage of politics, shepherding us into strictures of status and class. Even here, within this contest—thanks to the history of images that has shaped our common understanding of visual art, and  the language that shapes our common culture—the submitted images overwhelmingly focused on the various arts of entertainment, a transaction or exchange of money for goods, and professions of hard manual labor.

Of the 232 submitted images, and of the 45 selected work, many were photographs. It was evident several of the works submitted were done by an artist enchanted by a novelty of subject, or place, in much the same way thumbing through a National Geographic stirs our interest in the unfamiliar. Despite many intriguing images and subjects, what made my attention return were the formal structures of composition and design, color and value. Narrative also played a part in both initial selections, and awards: how many stories could be pulled from the image beyond the illustration of a person working.

My thanks to the MFA Circle Gallery for inviting me to jury this exhibition, and to the artists for submitting and sharing their work.


1st Place, Peter Treiber, Sandblasting, Hoboken Yard

1st Place, Joanne Strehle Bast, The WINDOW WASHER

2nd Place, Stephen Thomas Hanks, Industrial Park

2nd Place, Judith Ann Guenther, Job Well Done

3rd Place, April M. Rimpo, Construction Rhythms I

3rd Place, Ted MuellerIn Process

Honorable Mention, Lisa Briganti Rath, Gyros on the Street

Honorable Mention, Emily Carter Mitchell, Clam Digging

Honorable Mention, George Sass, Happy Meals

*Award contributors and recipients will also be listed in the exhibition catalog.


All entrants will receive notice by email. The notice to accepted artists will include specific details and could vary from prospectus. A list of accepted artists and artwork will also be posted on MFA’s website. Please set your email account to recognize this address: info@mdfedart.org. Contact gallery if you do not receive notice.

Information for Accepted Artists

Exhibition Schedule

Exhibition Schedule:

Jan. 19 Online entry opens for submissions.
March 12 Deadline for entries
By April 5 All entrants notified by email. Check MFA website or contact MFA if you do not receive notice.
April 15 First day of exhibition
May 31 Last day of exhibition



  • MFA Online Exhibitions are for viewing only. MFA will refer any sales inquiries to the artist. MFA receives no commission for sales resulting from these exhibitions.