Union Unveils Permanent Memorial to Members Lost to COVID-19

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Founded by artists, The Factory has two workshops in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, and employs more than 40 artisans and engineers. The company has designed and fabricated unique installations for some of the biggest corporations and cultural institutions in the country, including Microsoft, IBM, The Guggenheim Museum, Vogue, HBO, MetLife, American Express, Saks Fifth Avenue, Versace and Under Armour.

The Memorial Painting

 The Memorial Painting is the work of Brooklyn artist Taha Clayton. It prominently features representations of five union members in the uniforms or attire worn by workers in the seven departments: Maintenance of Way; the Manhattan & Bronx Surface Transit Operating Authority; Car Equipment; Stations; Rapid Transit Operations; MTA Bus/School Bus/Private Operations; and TA Surface. The concept with a central grouping of transit workers demonstrating both grief and strength originated with union staff and leadership in conjunction with the artist. It was fully developed, refined and brought to new heights by Taha through a series of sketches that led to the final oil-on-canvas creation.

 The Artist -- Born in Houston and raised outside of Toronto, Taha has lived in Brooklyn for 15 years. He has exhibited his work extensively throughout the United States and Canada, and was one of four artists featured in the documentary Heavyweight Paint. Here, he describes his approach and process:

'I felt honored to be selected to create this painting because I personally know transit workers and I see how hard they work, especially during these crazy times. Painting this allowed me to showcase my gratitude, as well as help express the city’s gratitude for all their hard work.

During the design process, I not only filed through available images of the workers as a point of reference, but I also made sure to go out and document and observe them in person. In doing this, I truly realized how vital their sacrifice and dedication was in order for the people of New York and the city in itself to keep moving. Figuratively and literally.

It was important for me to represent the family and unity within Local 100. In that, I found my foundation. The five members in the center link arms, bow their heads, and in proud gaze, highlight their strength and support for one another. I decided to add the doves as an unobtrusive touch to further commemorate their fallen members.

It feels amazing to be part of the permanent memorial in the Union Hall. I’m incredibly proud of this painting, not only in how it turned out, but who it is honoring."