Crochet is being used to help visualise the pandemic’s affect on Hispanic women’s employment
Women, Work & Covid-19 is the new project utilising crochet to demonstrate how women – Black, Asian and Latina women mostly – have been disproportionately affected by the global pandemic.
- Dalia Al-Dujaili
- 31 August 2021
As the pandemic was taking effect over the globe, Olivia Johnson created Women’s Work, a crochet project which visualises discrimination against women in the workforce after statistics emerged showing how disproportionately affected they were by the pandemic. Now, she’s returned with a follow-up project: Women, Work & Covid-19.
It displays the data associated with working women, using the form of crochet itself to embody the work of women in both its literal form and its symbolic meaning. Johnson, a Portland-based artist, typically uses data within her artwork to “inform, illuminate, and educate”. “Cross stitch,” says Johnson, “a form of art that tends to be labeled as kitsch and women’s hobby craft, was utilised to emphasise the fact that women’s labour is routinely dismissed and undervalued.” Therefore, using the medium is a form of turning the practice on its head to highlight vital issues about the undervaluing of women’s contributions to the workforce.
With research from Pew, it has emerged that Hispanic women, immigrants, and young adults experienced the most job losses from the Covid-19 pandemic. The textiles project illustrates how one third of working mothers have considered limiting their contributions to the workforce, and that, in four out of five of the hardest hit sectors of 2020, women made up the majority of jobs lost. Those sectors included education and health, retail, and leisure and hospitality.
Johnson says that, carrying on from her last project, she decided to expand her work to “specifically comment on the state of working women during the pandemic, this time using crochet to display data”. Where white women made up 13 per cent of women who lost their job during the pandemic, Hispanic women made up 21 per cent, Black women made up 17 per cent, and Asian women, 19 per cent.
GalleryOlivia Johnson: Women, Work & Covid-19 (Copyright © Olivia Johnson, 2021)
Olivia Johnson: Women, Work & Covid-19 (Copyright © Olivia Johnson, 2021)
About the Author
Dalia is a freelance writer, producer and editor based in London. She’s currently the digital editor of Azeema, and the editor-in-chief of The Road to Nowhere Magazine. Previously, she was news writer at It’s Nice That, after graduating in English Literature from The University of Edinburgh.