Two Images of A Breaker Boy


The primary purpose of the photographs Hine took for the National Child Labor Committee, an organization committed to the regulation of child labor was simply to prove that there were millions of youngsters working in factories, a fact widely denied by employers.  Among the most exploited were “breaker boys”, whose job it was to separate rocks from chunks of coal.  Like the men they worked beside, the boys endured foul air, dangerous conditions and 12-hour days.  In such circumstances, wrote one miner, life “is scarcely worth living.”

Among the many purposes of the paintings that I do for my work, one is simply to prove to myself that there are millions of youngsters working in factories, open-air construction sites and street corners, a fact widely denied by employers.  Among the most exploited are brick breaker boys, whose job–though they may not wear a cap in the commission of their artificial duties– it is to separate usable brick from dust.  Like the women– their mothers–they work beside, the boys endure foul air, dangerous conditions and 12- hour days.  In such circumstances, a brick breaker might write life, “is scarcely worth living.”

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~ by Faheem Haider on March 1, 2010.

2 Responses to “Two Images of A Breaker Boy”

  1. I really like these drawings. I’d like to see them charcoaled on a wall.

  2. Thanks Helen. I’d thought about putting them on walls before, but I like what happens when ink blots onto paper and in particular what happens when I splash water on that ink. Its an experience in itself and at least some part of the project is to capture that fleeting moment before the water and the ink dry and the paper is left with the mark of the ink and water. Its this alchemy that I most enjoy in my work, the same alchemy that I think painters have enjoyed. So it is with a certain slip of convention and causation that I call these works paintings.

    In fact, I call all my works paintings. When’s the last time you actually saw a painting that 1) you did not execute 2) you did not go see ( in person) at a gallery or museum. This implies that very few people in the world (in the history of the world) have seen a painting. And we can’t have that can we?

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