Art: The office assistant

Consider this a tribute to the unsung heros of the workplace. The people who make the whole thing work. Artist Zen Parry has taken up a seat in the Portland Building in Portland Oregon, where she crochets a a huge blanket while talking to the public.

During a temporary job I had in the corporate world, the office always functioned well, but “felt” even better when the Office Assistant was present. This woman brought a sense of comfort into that cold sterile environment – she did all of the unseen things that the rest of us didn’t know how to do. I often thought of her as providing a comforting blanket of functionality within that office – you could always rely on her “just being there.”

This installation symbolizes the comfort experienced in that environment. There is a lot of security in having a routine and identity that a job provides. Even though you might not be happy with your job, you will still come to work on a regular basis, and perform your duties, comfortable in the familiarity of that rhythm. I am doing the same – coming to work each day, performing my duties by being here and making a rug of comfort.

You are invited to interrupt my performance – sit and chat, call out to me as you walk through the lobby or use the ATM machine – you might even try to ignore me as you hurry to your next appointment. Artists often strive to create an environment as a work of art. In this installation/performance, I will strive to create an environment as the art of work.

Even if you manage to ignore me, I know that you will miss me when I am gone…..

What a cool, fun, innovative way to comment on work, especially unfulfilling work without condemning it. Read more about the installation here and
Zen is blogging about it here.

2 thoughts on “Art: The office assistant”

  1. HI Alexander,
    thank-you so much for picking up the project. It is an amazing experience, and I am humbled by the people that have visited the location, and have stopped to chat for a while. The momentum of these interactions has provided opportunities for extremely interesting exchanges on why we do what we do, when we lose the plot, and a whole host of other topics. All because of someone sitting in a chilly lobby, crocheting each day.
    Thank-you again,

  2. My pleasure. Your project allows us to view work from the outside – to gain some much needed distance and perspective.

    The fact that you achieve this in an open, playful and fun way just makes it even better!

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