The Mill Children Exhibit
The project began in 2010 when Brill Gallery owner Ralph Brill and other artists with studios in the Eclipse Mill in North Adams began to research the history of their building. Their research led them to Joe Manning, a local historian who introduced them to the photography of Lewis Wickes Hine. Starting in 1908, Hine was the photographer for the National ChildLabor Committee. He traveled the country to document the lives of child laborers in many industries. In 1911, his work took him to the textile mills in Adams and North Adams including the Eclipse Mill. His striking and thought provoking images are at the heart of the exhibit. Using Hine's photography as inspiration, local artists created new works expressing their ideas of what life may have been like for the mill children.
In addition to prints of Hine's photos, the exhibit includes works by artistsWilliam Oberst and Dawn Nelson, films by Steven Born and musical compositions by Matt Hopkins. Educator Anne Thideman French has created a Teacher's Guide and held workshops on the exhibit available free to educators. Adams Historical Society also contributed photos, artifacts and information about the Berkshire Mills in Adams, once a leading manufacturer of cotton fabric. The Society worked with 5 Hoosac Street Gallery to bring the exhibit to Adams.
The investigative photography of Lewis Wickes Hine helped to build public sentiment against child labor, which ultimately led to state and federal laws prohibiting the practice.
5 Hoosac Street Gallery
The 5 Hoosac Street Gallery itself is located in a former textile mill building, Berkshire Mill #4. It is an appropriate setting for the exhibit, as the space may actually have had child workers a century ago. The gallery is dedicating to bringing artistic, educational and historic exhibits to Adams to grow the creative economy. The gallery is a venture of Bill Kolis, an Adams native and owner of the Firehouse Café on Park Street in Adams. In addition to the Mill Children, the gallery is also showing an exhibit titled March on Washington including photographs and information about the historic Civil Rights Movement event in 1963.
The exhibit is open daily from Noon to 6 pm. Admission is free.
The gallery has put out the call for volunteers and contributions to assist them in their work. Contact them at 413.776.7487. 5 Hoosac Street Gallery would like to thank the Adams Historical Society, Connors Bros. Moving and Storage, the Town of Adams and Westall Architects for their support.
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