From 2006 to 2009 I devoted myself to photographing, rendering, and painting the construction workers in my Oakland studio neighborhood. My studio is located in the old produce section where warehouses are being converted into condominiums. As I watched the construction workers leave each day, they appeared to be satisfied with their work. I envied their methodical jobs: Clock in, take orders, build something, get paid, go home. I pondered the idea of departing from my abstract painting, to do something that methodical in my art work. I decided to photograph these men each day at the same time, when they were leaving work to go home, so I could paint them.

I likened each step in the process to constructing a building, each part contributing to the whole. I chose to paint in a gestured manner, not as a photorealist would, letting my artist's hand be evident as the witness and scribe. I have left as much of the process showing as possible: the drawings, the ruler edges, and the ruled squares. I've intentionally left the pieces unfinished, leaving first stages in the development visible as you might see in a construction site.

My intention was to complete a series of these workers on canvas, keeping them heroic in size, as with historical paintings. I saw these men making history, now changing the demographics of California. Because they are willing to do the lowest manual labor, they have become the backbone of our city and state. They have an investment in this place now that not many of us natives can say we have. I hope with this work to raise awareness of the part these noble workers play in our future.

Rosemary Allen 2009