Mierle Laderman Ukeles (born 1939, Denver, Colorado) is a New York City-based artist known for her feminist and service oriented artwork. As an undergraduate, Ukeles studied history and international studies at Barnard College and later began her artistic training at the Pratt Institute in New York. In 1969 she wrote a manifesto entitled Maintenance Art—Proposal for an Exhibition, challenging the domestic role of women and proclaiming herself a "maintenance artist". Maintenance, for Ukeles, is the realm of human activities that keep things going, such as cooking, cleaning and child-rearing and her performances in the 1970s included the cleaning of art galleries.
One of her most well-known projects Touch Sanitation (1970–1980), involved shaking hands with more than 8,500 workers in the New York City Department of Sanitation while saying "Thank you for keeping New York City alive."