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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 next summer.

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 work world.

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 national convention.

Robin Alexander
UE Director of International Labor Affairs
One Gateway Center, Suite 1400
420 Fort Duquesne Blvd.
PGH., PA. 15222-1416

412-471-8919
412-471-8999 FAX

Labor and related news from Mexico is reported bi-monthly in Mexican Labor News and Analysis.  Check it out on our web site: <HTTP://www.igc.apc.org/unitedelect/>


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