Pineros, the Spanish word for treeplanters or pineworkers, is a project that uses the Christmas tree tradition to honor and create curiosity about the people who care for and harvests Christmas trees. By way of a gift, a handblown glass ornament with a treeworker’s name, families in Portland, Oregon are invited to honor these workers by hanging the ornament on their tree, and effectively integrating this person into their family traditions.
More context and details
Oregon is one of the largest producers of Christmas trees in the country. During the holidays, the state supplies itself, many parts of the country and even world. The work involved to care for and harvest a Christmas tree happens over years, an average of 6 to 10. Pruning and harvesting the trees are the most intensive parts of the job. Pruning requires doing repetitive work with a single arm and the harvest is done in a short period of time and often in rain, cold, and other harsh conditions. Seasonal farm labor is a major part of how larger tree growers are able to harvest millions of trees to bring to the public every year.
During this holiday, the Christmas tree represents tradition, family, and generosity. While many of us cherish the cozy moments of celebrating the holidays with our families huddled around a bright-lit Christmas tree, many of us do not think about the work necessary for our Christmas tree to eventually make it into our neighborhood. This project would honor those workers who care for the tree from the beginning of its life as a seedling, to trimming it to prepare it for sell, and eventually cutting it down and loading it for transport. By making a connection between a grower in Oregon and a lot that sells those same trees, I have invited 5 workers to lend their story and name for the project. The project title, Pineros, is the Spanish word for pineworkers or treeplanters, as the majority of workers are Latin American immigrant men.
I am working with a local artist and glassmaker, Jessie Blackmer to create 100 special handblown glass ornaments, 20 each naming a different worker. I will distribute these as gifts at a lot in Portland, OR to families who are buying the very trees that the workers cared for. The ornament will list the worker's name and will be delivered in a small box, which will also include more information about them, their work, and how they spend their holidays. It is meant to plant a seed so to speak, about one of the ways that farmworkers, the often immigrant and low paid laborers who do some of the hardest physical labor around today, contribute to our state and ultimately personal lives.
Risks and challenges
The pieces necessary for the project to take place in the world are almost done. I've made the connections with the growers and workers, and interviewed all the workers. Thanks to Jessie Blackmer, the majority of the ornaments are made as well.
The website is now complete. The timeframe is short and it will be challenging to get it all done in time. However, I've completed projects before with high levels of coordination and can count on the support of other artists and friends (In particular, thank you Sharita Towne, Patricia Vazquez, Anna Kellerman, Renata Austin, and Adam Coble!). I also have the support and commitment from the people at the lot to distribute the ornaments before the end of the Christmas tree season.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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