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Exhibition - It's Just a Job: Bill Owens and Studs Terkel on Working in 1970s America

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January 20 - July 29, 2018

PLEASE NOTE MUSEUM HOURS: T-F, 10am- 4:30pm. Sat-Sun, Noon-5pm. 1st Tues of most months, 10am-9pm.

Museum is closed Mondays, major holidays, and the month of August.

FREE Admission.

Start Time: Saturday, January 20, 2018 12:00 AM
End Time: Saturday, July 28, 2018
Location: Voorhees Hall Incl Zimmerli Art Museum
Address: 71 Hamilton Street
Campus: College Avenue
City, State, Country: New Brunswick, NJ US
Fee: Free
Sponsor: Zimmerli Art Museum at Rutgers
Category: Art
Web Site:
Contact Name: Theresa Watson
Contact Email:
Contact Phone: (848) 932-7237
Additional Information:

During the 1970s, the nature of work and people’s relationships with their jobs changed dramatically in the United States. Manufacturing, a mainstay of the American economy and national labor identity, began to falter under the weight of global shifts, giving way to an economy increasingly organized around service and white-collar work. These changes, coupled with rising unemployment, the struggles of women and people of color for equality in the workplace and beyond, and occupational disenchantment, caused the topic of “meaningful employment” to become a national preoccupation. As political theorist Marshall Berman noted in the New York Times in 1974, “Americans have come to perceive work as a central problem, maybe the central problem, in the 1970’s [sic].”

Drawn to the topic of employment because of its primary importance to the lives of ordinary people, California-based photographer Bill Owens and pioneering oral historian Studs Terkel began book projects in the 1970s focused on working life in the United States. Although these projects differed in geographical scope and in their instruments of investigation—Terkel traveled the country with his signature tape recorder, while Owens focused his camera on the working people of California’s Bay Area and Los Angeles—both men sought insight into the era’s zeitgeist through candid portraits of its secretaries, factory workers, and insurance agents. The themes that run through their work, including workplace discrimination based on race and gender and employment instability in the wake of globalization, remain remarkably relevant today.

Target Audience: Current Students,  Rutgers 250,  Researchers,  Visitors,  Commuters,  Donors & Supporters,  Undergraduate Students,  Graduate Students,  Prospective Students,  Faculty,  Staff,  Alumni,  General Public,  Parents & Families