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Secretary of Labor Thomas E. Perez
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News Release

OPA News Release: [05/10/2011]
Contact Name: Michael Volpe or Evangelina Garcia
Phone Number: (202) 693-3984 or x4661
Release Number: 11-0694-DAL

Gulf Coast art created by Job Corps student in Guthrie, Okla., used in award honoring US Labor Department employees for service during BP oil spill

WASHINGTON — Malcolm-Jamal Warren, a student at the Guthrie Job Corps Center in Guthrie, Okla., created a unique picture that depicts the beauty of the Gulf Coast, which has been used as part of an award honoring the service and dedication of U.S. Department of Labor employees during the aftermath of the 2010 BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill disaster.

Warren applied a variety of oil pastels and colored pencils on heavyweight construction paper to create a scene that captures the beauty and timelessness of the beaches and wild life along the Gulf Coast prior to the oil spill as well as Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. Warren said that his artwork was designed to honor the memory of workers who perished, the resolve of Gulf Coast inhabitants and the untiring efforts of many Labor Department employees in relation to the spill.

In a ceremony today, Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis presented replicas of the painting in a shadow box frame to 312 Labor Department employees in recognition of their outstanding efforts and service. When the oil spill happened, these employees protected cleanup workers; monitored the region's cleanup operations; helped citizens seeking reimbursement from BP; provided skills assessment and training, and individual career counseling; and enforced wage laws and contract compliance.

"Eleven oil rig workers needlessly lost their lives, and working families in the Gulf Coast were dealt a tremendous blow by the oil spill, while still recovering from Katrina and Rita," Secretary Solis said. "This beautiful art, which depicts the timeless beauty of the region, is a daily reminder that the Labor Department will do whatever is necessary to help the Gulf Coast and its people recover and become whole again."

The honored employees represent multiple agencies of the Labor Department: the Employment and Training Administration, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, the Office of Congressional and Intergovernmental Affairs, the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs, the Office of Public Affairs, the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Policy, the Office of the Secretary, the Solicitor's Office, and the Wage and Hour Division.

Twenty-year-old Warren has a special place in his heart for the Gulf Coast. A New Orleans native who also has lived in Florida, Warren felt the devastating impact of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita on the people and land of Louisiana and surrounding areas, and recognized the efforts of government agencies to help in the recovery. Then the BP oil spill "destroyed not only the lives of some of the people on the Gulf Coast, but also the lives of our precious wildlife and its habitat," he said. Warren used his art skills honed at the Guthrie Job Corps Center to create his picture, which, he said, "reminded me of the Louisiana skies, our lakes, rivers and wildlife."

Warren designed his scene using 11 different colors. He creatively blended two shades of yellow art pencil and oil pastel, four shades of blue oil pastels, one orange oil pastel, one black pencil, one blue-green oil pastel, and one white pencil to compose and capture the colors of the environment.

Job Corps is a program of the Department of Labor's Employment and Training Administration. Job Corps is the nation's largest career technical training and education program for students ages 16 through 24. The program serves approximately 60,000 young people each year at 124 centers in 48 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico.