July 7, 2011 - July 31, 2011
Liberty Tax Service employs day-laborers to dress in Statue of Liberty costumes as a way to advertise the company’s offerings. The costumed workers position themselves on busy street corners where they wave and often dance in an effort to entice the public into the nearby tax offices. Artist Greta Pratt created a series of color portraits of these people whom she refers to as “wavers.” Before making each image, she asks the particular waver to adopt a pose that reflects their individual identity, not their status as an employed Statue of Liberty look-a-like. Pratt took every photograph on the spot where the person is working, with the urban landscape as their backdrop.
“I was first drawn to the wavers, as everyone is, by the unexpected sight of someone dancing on an urban street corner dressed as the Statue of Liberty. But after hearing their stories I became interested in them as individuals. I found that all of those I photographed are thankful to be working. Most of their prior job experiences have been in the service industry, from customer service at Wal-Mart to fast food cook to motel housekeeping. Some are disabled and at least one is currently homeless. All of them are struggling to make ends meet, particularly in the current economic crisis.”
Greta Pratt is the author of two books, Using History and In Search of the Corn Queen. Pratt’s works are represented in major public and private collections, including The Smithsonian American Art Museum, the Museum of Contemporary Photography, and the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston. Pratt was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize, served as photography bureau chief of Reuters International in New York City, and her photographs have been featured in The New York Times Magazine and The New Yorker. She is a recipient of a New Jersey State Council on the Arts Artist Fellowship. Pratt is currently an Assistant Professor of Photography at Old Dominion University.