Picture Perfect

Studio Gang fuses storage and display in their design for a traveling photography exhibition

Art Design Midwest
Studio Gang's mobile display cases for “Working in America.
Studio Gang's mobile display cases for “Working in America." (Courtesy Tom Harris)

Studio Gang Architects, working with art advocate Project&, have produced a traveling photography exhibition that highlights the stories and photographs of 24 American workers. Studio Gang produced 18 modular display cases which double as the show’s shipping containers.

The show, entitled Working in America, features the work of Pulitzer-Prize winning photographer Lynsey Addario. The opening of the show corresponds with the anniversary of Studs Terkel’s 1974 book Working, which explored similar themes. The show consists of stories and images from across the country.

Studio Gang Working in America

Studio Gang’s design integrates clasps and handles so the entire show can be easily packed and ship to its next location. (Courtesy Tom Harris)

Studio Gang’s design features seven-foot-tall display cases that can be locked together in sets of three. These cases were developed for ease of transportation and the ability to show in difficult situations. This was important as the show will be traveling through the United States on display at public libraries. Exhibiting in libraries presents a special challenge, in that work can be displayed on the walls.

Studio Gang Working in America

The display cases can be linked together in sets of three, (Courtesy Tom Harris)

“I envisioned self-crating steamer trunks that held an entire world inside, and when opened, revealed the large-scale photographs and the working lives of Americans, putting their voices and narratives at the center,” explained Jane M. Saks, the show’s curator. “The team from Studio Gang not only turned that vision into a reality, but they designed the displays so that they lock together and literally hold each other up. The design is elegant and almost poetic in the way it speaks to our interdependence as workers and human beings, and the strength of all of us when we join together.”

Studio Gang Working in America

The design of the cases integrates interactive elements of the show. (Courtesy Tom Harris)

The cases are built of Baltic Birch plywood and vegetable-tanned leather for the handles. “We wanted to give visual space and dignity to each of the individuals represented in the photographs,” said Jeanne Gang. Studio Gang’s experience with exhibition design includes shows for the Art Institute of Chicago, Art Basel Miami, and the Chicago Architecture Biennial.

Working in America is currently on display at Chicago’s Harold Washington Library Center, and will run through the end of January.

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