International Mural Project Underway in Union Hall in Erie Pennsylvania
ERIE, PA ---Internationally acclaimed San Francisco, Bay Area muralist
Juana Alicia, assisted by Rosalia Máriz are working on the first part of
a bi-national mural project for working women in international solidarity.
The second mural will be painted in the city of Leon, Guanajuato, Mexico
The current mural site is on an interior wall of the headquarters of Local
506 of the United Electrical, Radio and Machine Workers of America (UE),
which represents thousands of workers who manufacture Locomotives for
General Electric at its sprawling plant nearby. The mural project is
co-sponsored by UE and the Frente Auténtico del Trabajo (FAT), an
independent Mexican labor federation. These two labor organizations have
worked together for many years to bridge the distance between workers in
the United States and Mexico.
The contents of the mural are based on historical data, personal stories,
poems, and photographs provided by women from Leon and Erie. Among other
elements, the mural depicts historical and current labor struggles on the
rail cars of two trains, which meet in the center, and run through the
landscapes of Erie and Leon, representing the journey of working women
over the last century, and the link of solidarity between the UE, FAT, and
workers internationally. The rail cars contain panels with detailed
historical depictions of the lives and struggles of women workers. The
image at the center of the mural is a butterfly, the Aztec symbol of
movement and change: "Ollin." In its evolution from the
chrysalis to caterpillar to cocoon to butterfly, the Ollin symbol in the
mural, represents the evolution of women's strength and leadership in the
Juana Alicia is a San Francisco, Bay Area-based artist. Her paintings have
been featured in a number of major exhibitions over the past two decades.
Her murals appear, among many other locations, at the San Francisco
International Airport, the University of California at Santa Cruz and on
the façade of the headquarters of the National Teachers Union in
Nicaragua. She is assisted by Mexican artist Rosalia Máriz, also based in
the Bay Area. Although not the author of the design she is a vital
collaborator in the project. Her work has been exhibited and collected
internationally. She has organized exhibitions for Amnesty International.
Her favorite medium is amate, a Mexican bark paper, focusing her work on
indigenous and women's issues throughout the world and history.
The UE Research and Education Fund gratefully acknowledges the support of
the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, a state agency funded by the
Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and the National Endowment for the Arts.
It also greatly appreciates grants from the Erie Arts Endowment, the John
Nesbit Rees and Sarah Henne Rees Charitable Foundation, the Rachel and Ben
Vaughan Foundation, the Puffin Foundation, the Open Meadows Foundation and
the Blue Mountain Center.
The inauguration of the mural will take place on August 29 during the UE
UE Director of International Labor Affairs
One Gateway Center, Suite 1400
420 Fort Duquesne Blvd.
PGH., PA. 15222-1416