Boston Art Commission

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  • Steelworker

Steel Worker

Artist:

Luis Jimenez

Location:

University of Massachusetts Boston, McCormack Hall/Wheatley Hall  

Location

University of Massachusetts Boston, McCormack Hall/Wheatley Hall
United States
42° 18' 52.0164" N, 71° 2' 23.3088" W

Neighborhood:

Dorchester

Type:

Sculpture

Year:

1990

Medium:

Fiberglass

Collection:

Arts on the Point

Funders:

Description:

Unlike some public sculptures, Luis Jimenez’s oversized, brightly colored fiberglass works are hard to ignore. Jimenez grew up in El Paso, Texas, where his father, a Mexican immigrant, owned a neon sign shop. He passed away suddenly in 2006 after a massive piece of sculpture fell on him while he was working in his studio. Jimenez’s artistic technique and style attests to the longtime influence of his father’s trade, while the subjects he depicts illustrate his continuing fascination with Mexican-American culture and the intermediate space of the border.

With his work, Jimenez aims to reach a wide audience of artistic laypeople—not art world initiates and regular museumgoers, but the working class. Naturally, his work has generated controversy, and there are those who find it garish and even insulting. For example, when a version of Steel Worker with the subtitle “Hunky” was shown at a Pittsburgh art festival in 1990, many protested that the epithet and depiction of the worker were degrading. What Jimenez had intended as a tribute to industrial workers—rarely featured in monumental public sculpture—some interpreted as an affront.

Another work by Jimenez can be found nearby. Called Lagartos, it features a group of twisting, contorted alligators and was originally created for El Paso’s main urban plaza.

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