Site: United Electrical Union
37 S. Ashland Avenue (interior), Chicago
Artists: John Pitman Weber and Jose Guerrero
Community Participants: Members of the United Electrical Workers
Sponsors: Chicago Mural Group and United Electrical Workers
Scale: 10 x 120 feet on five walls
Information: Talking with the artists had become the favorite break for the electrical workers union staff. Their reminiscences were rich with anecdotes of strikes and of early conditions in the shops. Many of the older members were typically nostalgic for the “good old days” when organizing and union spirit were at a high point. The artists poured through old copies of the union’s newspapers, photo files, and movies as well as attended local meetings and visited plant sites. They sought to create something that would give to anyone entering an aesthetic experience integral to the place.
The complexity of the surface and the newness of the thematic material required the artist’s openness to imagery and design. The artists turned to Mexican muralists Diego Rivera and David Alfaro Siquieres for their compositional approaches to the mural, and hence the mural maintains a 1930’s feel. Weber and Guerrero painted Solidarity in the hope that it would be the first of many public works drawing on Chicago’s rich industrial history.