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.