CLC Worker Constructs Life of Art, Purpose

Courtesy of Michigan Moses Goldsby

Campus Life Center (CLC) construction worker Michigan Moses Goldsby likened his daily routine to going hunting — one of a few analogies he often makes about his life.

“You [have to] be in a certain psychological space to endure that type of environment on a daily basis,” he told the Wheel, noting the constant level of caution and focus required on the construction site.

Goldsby spends his days on the construction site, working for BHW Sheet Metal Co, a subcontracted company based in Jonesboro, Ga., that makes sheet metal into the ductwork used inside Emory’s future student center.

Sarah Taha/Staff

His days start at 5 a.m., when he travels from Stone Mountain, Ga., to Druid Hills for a 7 a.m. start time. According to Goldsby, the team typically begins by stretching and flexing their muscles to get limbered up for the day’s activities, which include welding, overseeing ductwork installation and unloading materials delivered on any given day. Goldsby said his job requires that he oversees every part of the process, from shaping the sheet metal into ductwork to sealing it, staging and installing it in the building.

Other than a quick break at 9 a.m. and a lunch break at noon, Goldsby is on the move most of the day, completing these tasks — all of which require his more than 20 years of experience in the sheet metal industry.

The construction worker said he clocks out around 3:30 p.m., picks up his six kids from school and makes it home around 5:30 p.m. After he cooks dinner, he spends the evening nurturing his artistic passions: photography and videography. Sometimes, he takes photos on his Canon EOS 70D camera and edits in Adobe Creative Cloud, a graphic design software, and other days he creates music or edits videos shot on his Sony Rx10 Mark II. Many of his projects, like a commercial shoot for a beauty supply brand or music videos for local artists, eventually end up on his website.

“A lot of people have misconceptions about construction workers,” Goldsby said. “[But] we talk about everything under the sun. … It’s a lot of well-educated [people].”

When it comes to Goldsby, these misconceptions couldn’t be more relevant. He avidly studies the zodiac. He has been a vegetarian since 2012. He calls himself “a spiritual being.”

Born in Cincinnati, Goldsby said he knew he wanted to go into a trade profession after he graduated high school. Although he was first inclined to become an electrician, he eventually settled on the sheet metal industry, taking a five-year apprenticeship with Sheet Metal Workers Local 24, a sheet metal union in the Midwest.

Three years into his apprenticeship, Goldsby received a Fujifilm point-and-shoot camera as a Father’s Day present, which sparked his passion for photography. In 2005, after he completed the apprenticeship, he moved to Georgia in pursuit of more career opportunities.

“Unfortunately, I wasn’t in the position for [photography and videography] to help me raise my six children,” Goldsby said. “Sheet metal had the benefits and the means to help me raise my children, but my love for photography, videography, music and all of that still remains, so I do both.”

Courtesy of Michigan Moses Goldsby

Although Goldsby said he rarely finds ways to incorporate his artistic mindset into his daily work, he has found similarities in his work and another one of his passions: chess.

“In my opinion, chess is like having a staff [of] workers that you have to know how to manage,” Goldsby said. “Chess makes you accountable for every move you make, and it also gives you the courage to make that move.”

Because of his passion for the game, he plays most days on the app Chess With Friends. As to what drives his passion for both sheet metal and photography, Goldsby cited his pride in his work.

“I think it’s the type of individual you [have to] be,” he said. “I care about my work whether it’s doing sheet metal or doing photography or film. You have pride in your work.”

Goldsby said he was able to work on the trailer for a film about life in the ghetto, “Beyond the ‘G,’ ” but the project was halted due to a lack of funding — which he said was a common occurrence.  

“I got a notebook full of [projects],” Goldsby said. “I’m actually … [working on] a project basically about my current situation: a 42-year-old construction worker [who] is trying to make his own films.”

While he said he wants to continue making films, Goldsby said lacks the connections in the filmmaking industry to make a full-length film. He said one day he hopes to direct and produce films. Until then, he will continue to work with sheet metal as the wages are consistent and allow him to support his family.

For Emory students, he has one piece of advice: “Stay grounded at all times and don’t get lost in the sauce.”

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