Those workers who chose to participate in the project — about 22 of the plant’s more than 100 employees — in turn recorded videos in which they talked about their work. These provided a starting point for interviews, which the students started to conduct last Friday.
They continued yesterday as Berry led a group of nine students to the plant, where they donned hard hats, safety glasses and fluorescent vests identifying them as artists.
One group visited the electrical shop to speak with Dumond Thebaud, who started out shoveling coal but is currently an electrician and has held several other jobs in more than 30 years at the plant.
Another student visited Miledy Santana in the plant’s chemistry lab, and a third group interviewed Ed Daddoli, who works in mechanical maintenance.
As the students become more familiar with the workers, they will formulate proposals for artworks they want to create for the exhibit.
“The students are being asked to interpret,” Berry said. “One student’s interviewing just the women, to hear their stories. Another person is taking pictures of the people working and using them as outlines to make sculptures. Another one is making costumes and having some of the workers reenact episodes that happened.
“So they are going to be interpreting, and there’s going to be flat artwork — drawing, photographs — and sculptures. There’s going to be a mural that’s going to involve the community, all kinds of different things.”
Student Melissa Tremblay wants to paint pictures of each worker’s boots, which will serve as “a symbol of their lives,” and was partly inspired by a painting by Vincent Van Gogh, Cohen said.
Kaitlyn Assmann, from Syracuse, N.Y., has asked workers to describe the first moment they saw the plant, and will use their responses in the soundtrack for an animated film.