"Faces of Immigration" was created by students in the Humanities and Leadership Development High School, Lawrence with the guidance of teacher Eric Allshouse. Students created the mural for the Lawrence History Center's exhibit, Short pay! All out! The Great Lawrence Textile Strike of 1912, to commemorate the centennial of the Bread & Roses Strike and is on display on the 6th floor of the Everett Mill.
This mural illustrates elements of the Bread and Roses Strike of 1912 in Lawrence, Massachusetts. Our goal was to show the worker’s struggle then and now. We divided the composition into two sides, the past and present. In the center of the mural, a woman is divided in half; the left side is a European woman with her blond hair pulled back for safety at the mill, and the right side is a Hispanic woman with long flowing brown hair and skin. The two sides symbolize the different waves of immigrants that have built this city over the past one hundred years. Inside their shirts, we added strikers to demonstrate the Bread and Roses Strike of 1912 and the recent Verizon Strike, both in Lawrence; both groups of strikers, then and now, both strive to get more pay and better working conditions.
Behind the main woman in the center, looms a great mill, the Wood Mill, owned by William Wood of the American Woolen Company. Over the past one hundred years, the mill has changed from being a place of strife and toil as a textile mill filled with hundreds of working immigrants, to a luxury condo and apartment complex where families will live by the river in spacious loft style living quarters. In the windows behind the central female figure you can see the workers of the mills collaged into the mural. Some are children, many are woman, and all are black and white photographs. And on the modern, current side of the mill, in the windows you can see collaged photographs of the finished interiors of the luxury apartments, beautiful, colorful, and modern. Above the words Monarch Lofts, the butterflies represent the freedom and rebirth each working person is striving towards. The city of Lawrence is undergoing another transformation today, with the rebirth of the mills as living spaces.
On top of the large mill, we added the great clock tower of the Ayer Mill, located next to the Wood Mill, home of the now Monarch Lofts. Within the clock tower, we incorporated the phrase “For Life, which for many working immigrants in 1912 was an all too real statement. Many workers died early from exhaustion, malnutrition, and disease and illness. We replaced the numbers on the clock face with tools and parts from the typical textile mill. On top of the mill we also added several large smoke stacks. Back in 1912, they plumed out thick sooty smoke filling the air over the city, but thankfully today they remain inactive and serve as a memorable landmark for the people of Lawrence.
Below the central female figure, the blue water on the left half represents how back then in 1912, it was much cleaner than it is now. The brown water on the right half represents how today our river is extremely polluted. Below the river, we show the two different types of trains from the past and present. The train has always been an important element in the City of Lawrence. In 1912, after many months of striking and surviving with little money or food, parents sent their children to other cities, into the homes of sympathizing supporters, friends, and family members, to ease the burden of the great strike. Today, the train still serves as a vital artery connecting Lawrence to the greater community.