Client: Manitoba Federation of Labour
Location: Winnipeg, MB, Canada
Completion date: 2020
Artwork budget: $100,000
Anna Rothney, Executive Director
MB Federation of Labour
Tom Ethans, Executive Director
Take Pride Winnipeg
35 years of mural painting led to this opus work. The commission process actually began in September 2019, the actual anniversary year of the Great Strike. But as Winnipeg is a winter city, the “Chicago of the North” plans were made to paint the mural in the spring of 2020. At 96 feet x 120 feet, this work towers amongst the downtown buildings, leaving an indelible mark upon the community. The grassroots revolution aspect of the 1919 general strike and the egalitarian workforce it helped create are commemorated on the 100th anniversary of this pivotal moment in the North American labour movement . Multicultural modern day workers in full colour contrast with ‘field of hats’ striking workers on the streets en masse. Vintage grey photo imagery and protest signs lay the foundation for a better life today. ‘Ghost signs’ help articulate the working class philosophy. Each monumental figure embodies a different facet of the work ethic. Painted during the pandemic as the ‘Black Lives Matter’ protesters marched past the wall, the central figure of the African American Nurse takes on even greater significance as an homage to the true value of all.
The 1919 Strike is etched into the character of Winnipeg, so this historic event in the 20th century labour movement was being celebrated as a civic campaign and was also the subject of many art forms- theatre, sculpture, gallery events etc. My mural is intended to endure as a legacy project that will last until the 200th anniversary.
The foundational colour transition from grey to orange is a symbolic one, representing the sociopolitical rise of the egalitarian labour movement and the creation of the middle class.