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Judy Taylor Statement Maine Labor Mural March 30, 2011


As the artist who created the mural, people ask me how I feel about what’s

happening and what I would like to see done. Like many of the people of

Maine, I want to see the mural displayed publicly as it was originally

intended. I want people to see it and connect to Maine’s labor history. The

purpose of the mural is historical, the artistic intent to honor. It belongs

to the people of Maine and needs to be accessible to them.

Painting the mural is what I have trained my entire life to do. The theme of

figure and context is what I set out to chronicle in my career as an artist.

In fact, my first painting as a child was of my grandfather on his farm in

Nebraska, in the context of his work and life. I loved seeing my

grandparents work and followed my grandmother all over her farm and rode with

my grandfather as he delivered oil around the state.

I’ve always had a deep curiosity and passion for my family’s history as well

as our nation’s history, so when in 2007 I learned that the Maine Arts

Commission was requesting submissions for a commissioned piece of artwork

detailing the history of labor in Maine, I immediately entered the


After a competitive process, I was awarded the commission and commenced upon

a year of research, preparation of archival materials, sketches of stories in

context based on historical fact and painting the panels. I added one

personal piece, which was to include my mother and father as I had lost both

of them the previous year. My father is the young Army officer and my mother

the little girl in the Frances Perkins panel. My father served as a Forward

Observer during the Korean War and was awarded a Bronze Star. He was a man

who stood by every word he spoke, every letter he wrote. It was so

heartbreaking to learn that this controversy may have started with an

anonymous letter comparing this mural to a North Korean propaganda poster.

Perhaps we should hang my father’s Bronze Star for his service in Korea in

the now empty reception area of the Maine Department of Labor until the mural

is returned, as a symbol of the importance of remembering our history, and

not shuttering it away.

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