Ahead of us lies a larger and ever-changing workforce, technology. Robots and Artificial Intelligence cannot be stopped by borders or travel bans. We must begin to redefine America’s workforce, where traditional gender roles will be challenged and then inevitably break down. Within a few decades, a substantial amount of vocational opportunities will be jobs that only humans can perform, such as: nursing, childcare, music, hospice care, service, and art. In this instance, both the private and the public sector can participate in enabling the field of art to absorb new waves of displaced workers, with small business interests behind them. Companies that employ art projects, can receive tax incentives and take on an incredibly wide range of innate and unique projects. In turn, art takes it’s effect on the human mind; offering a more appealing and sensational environment whose expressions could also prove to be a substantial investment in Wisconsin’s important tourist industry, which provides millions of dollars in revenue for our state each year. Wisconsin’s workforce must regenerate itself in part through an eco-friendly expansion of the tourist industry.
Herein lies the problem with Wisconsin’s current Governor’s escort, the Taiwanese-based Foxconn Corporation. The Foxconn deal that our Governor has brokered for Wisconsin will indeed “bring jobs” to the areas where these factories are located. However, within a relatively short period, more and more of these positions will be filled by robots. This assurance of wide-scale employment is conveniently occurring just close enough to our Governor’s bid for re-election and will appear to pan out in the short run. Perhaps Foxconn will attempt to adapt, to maintain or create different types of employment for humans, but robots never stop working, make no demands, do not need time off or require benefits. Other fields such as construction and transportation will offer less and less human employment. Where do these workers go? Not entirely within the field of art by any means, but a push for a burgeoning art industry must be an option on a larger scale than Americans have ever known, to realize a truly malleable economy.
Businesses, especially in more urban areas, can truly benefit from the unorthodox and unique qualities that a once-bare three story brick wall brings now that it is emblazoned with some type of memorable stigma. “Al Johnson’s”, for example, a famous Swedish restaurant in Door County, has a grass rooftop, where goats actually munch on the dark and lush green grass that coats the entire slightly vaulted roof top. Once you see the exterior, you will never forget the restaurant. I have always enjoyed driving through tunnels on Lake Shore Drive in Chicago that feature artwork within them. I once saw a Cajun restaurant with a whole side of the building featuring a giant sax player from shoulders to waist, a woman dancing alongside, music notes floating about, and delicious food in front of them. The artwork featured within this post is collectively from Janesville, Green Bay and Milwaukee, and can be expanded on around these most heavily populated areas. San Francisco, a major tourist attraction, features artwork about the city, some in unusual places.
The promotion of such a commercial art in our society, in our more densely populated areas, can prove helpful in filling the inevitable void of jobs lost to automation. I picture a team of artists or artist composing the design based on the need of private or public demand, then it is realized by a much larger team, who don’t have to have college de-grees in art to help apply design and structure. I believe we need to make major societal changes, ones that can no longer be scoffed at or dismissed. Wisconsin should be exacting it’s revenue and sustenance from creative, climate change-friendly agricultural expansion, utilizing best practices in doing so. In addition, Wisconsin can flourish even more so from our tourist industry. I would rather see our economy derive more revenue from these types of sources, and create jobs within them (however diverse they may be individually), as opposed to investing billions of dollars into a documented polluter like Foxconn, who holds little promise for jobs twenty years from now and will leave a scorched and lifeless stretch of pavement behind. Wisconsin needs a variety of new endeavors to survive, to rewrite the want ads of yesterday. Projects are not limited to paintings or murals, but could be intertwined with public works or types of renovation, for example. Art, while only providing a portion Wisconsin’s new economy, must be included in the market.
Pictures of Garbage
Jardim Gramacho, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Featured in the 2010 documentary Waste Land, Brazilian-born artist Vik Muniz travelled to his native home to photograph and document the numerous workers at the world’s largest landfill, Jardin Gramacho. With Muniz’ assistance, the workers created a series of enormous self-portraits from the millions of recyclable items they recovered during their daily picks of Jardin Gramacho. The project was intended to offer the workers new perspectives on themselves and their communities, which are plagued by poverty and dangerous working conditions. A percentage of the proceeds from the sales of the portraits are returned to the workers, and Muniz and the filmmakers of Waste Land have donated over $200,000 to the workers’ cooperative, including payment to those who posed for the portraits..