Minneapolis, MN: Mnemonic Press, 2011. Two small quarto vols. (82); (82)ff., loose. One of seven copies, signed by the artist, Harriet Bart. Commemorating the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire of 1911, Drawn in Smoke is both meditative and challenging, with each of its 160 sheets pairing a victim’s name, inscribed in graphite, with a reproduction of one of Bart’s smoke drawings. The factory fire remains one of the deadliest industrial disasters in U.S. history. The then-common practice of locking in workers—done largely out of xenophobic and classist suspicions of theft and laziness—prevented escape when a fire erupted on the factory floor. One hundred forty-six garment workers, mostly young women and girls who were recent Jewish and Italian immigrants, died from burns, smoke inhalation, or jumping from the windows. The tragedy inspired legislation to protect workers and their rights and spurred the growth of unions internationally. Bart’s two-volume reckoning asks the viewer to root their ambitions for justice in the memory of those lost in its name. Paging through name after name, the viewer internalizes that, beyond attempting to salvage such a loss with immediate legislative gain, it remains tantamount to honor those who sacrificed on its behalf.
The discrepancy between Bart's 160 names and the 146 recorded in the Cornell University archives accounts for victims whose names were listed with multiple spellings. Title page design by Philip Gallo at Hermetic Press. Printed by Eric Recktenwald at The Lab Digital Production. The volumes, divided into A-L and M-Z, are housed in two clamshell boxes crafted by Jill Levine, held together in an archival slipcase. Very fine. Item #30458