“Gold Rush” exhibition, 2016; de Saisset Museum, Santa Clara University
Sewing machines, fabric, wood, gold thread and pendant lights
Coolie examines the prevalence of forced labor during the Gold Rush Era of 1849. Triggered by the visitor’s presence, eight vintage sewing machines relentlessly press gold thread into swaths of red silk fabric while the haunting sounds of sewing machine motors echo the plight of darkness of those forced into labor. The choice of gold represents greed and the pursuit of wealth at any expense. The cascading red fabric symbolizes the innocent bloodshed of “coolie” laborers.