This Labor Day, we celebrate Mahonri Young- a social realist and grandson of Latter-day Saint prophet Brigham Young. Young celebrated laborers throughout his entire career- both in his art and in his personal advocacy.
Riding the Girder features two young men looming over the then-contemporary menagerie of Industrial America. One actively gazes down at the scenery below, while the other—presumably exhausted from work—rests on the construction equipment. Cloaked in vivid scarlets and gleaming alabaster, the metropolis clearly stands out from the lackluster vestments of the laborers.
Regardless, Young’s attitude regarding this brave new world is left to interpretation. Are the rapid strokes of pastel meant to evoke a cloudy sunrise, or a sky tainted by factory smokestack pollution?
Guest author: Curatorial intern Tessa Haney