Helen Geglio

The Triangle Fire: Flightless Birds 2
cotton, linen, found shirtwaist blouse, lace
52 x 40 in.

The lives of women, and how we are connected to textiles, is what interests me as an artist. I collect worn clothing, domestic linens and sewing scraps, and then I construct meaning from these pieces of cloth. I enjoy the process of working with materials that have passed through other hands, and I look for a story, maybe a snapshot of a moment, to open a visual narrative.

In March of 1911, horrified New Yorkers watched as garment workers, mostly young immigrant women and girls, plunged to their deaths from the burning upper floors of the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory. The doors to the workroom were locked, the elevator stopped operating and the flimsy fire escape collapsed. In this work I used a delicate shirtwaist blouse from that time to imagine a terrible choice; to perish in the flames or step off the window ledge.

© Helen Geglio