Labor Camp Composite

Covid-19: Labor Camp Report

Piotr Szyhalski

September 8th  – November 18th

Opening Reception: Thursday, September 15, 5-7 PM

Artist Lecture: Thursday, September 22, 7-8:30 PM

The UMKC Gallery of Art, in partnership with the Kansas City Art Institute, are pleased to announce Piotr Szyhalski’s Covid-19: Labor Camp Report. 225 black and white propaganda-style posters, wheat pasted across the gallery walls, each correspond to a day between March 24th and November 3rd of 2020. They chronicle the historical, social, and political crises of the peak of the Covid-19 pandemic, and speak to the universality and the urgency of that moment.  

Szyhalski posted a new black and white ink drawing to social media (@laborcamp) each day of the project. What began as an individual witness of his thoughts and feelings in lockdown quickly grew into a continuing dialogue with audiences. Some of the text and images drip with sarcasm and rage, others inspire hope and solidarity, still more connect Szyhalski’s Polish heritage with higher philosophies about our limited time on Earth. The iconography of raised fists, soaring birds, money, police, coffins, resilient nature, is combined with poignant text pulled straight from headlines and protest slogans. The resulting compositions appropriate the form of propaganda to communicate dissent.

Born and trained in Poland, Piotr Szyhalski has worked in the United States since 1990, and began his ongoing project “Labor Camp” in 1998, guided by the motto, “We Are Working All The Time!” His wide-ranging multimedia practice explores extreme phenomena, communication/exchange, and the relationships between the individual, society, history, and time. His work has been exhibited in museums and galleries around the world and he is a professor of media arts at the Minneapolis College of Art and Design. The artist will present a lecture in the UMKC Gallery of Art on Thursday, September 22, from 7 – 8:30 PM.


Updated Fall Gallery hours: Monday-Thursday 10 AM – 3 PM