The Women’s Building Maestra Peace Mural is a piece of public art in which women have found inspiration. This magnificent mural portrays images of women from across the world and throughout time. It presents historical events not found in most textbooks and proclaims, with vivid colors, the great women who stood against tremendous odds and are symbols of resilience. Maestra Peace hugs two sides of the four-story building where ten nonprofit organizations are housed–all working to empower, educate, and demand justice for women and girls. Three of the ten organizations recently shared their thoughts about the image in the mural that was particularly meaningful to their own work: CODEPINK: Women for Peace, San Francisco Women Against Rape (SFWAR), and Mujeres Unidas y Activas (MUA).
CODEPINK takes on the great task of working to end U.S. funded wars and occupations and to challenge militarism globally. For CODEPINK, the Goddess of Light symbolizes the knowledge and power that comes from women and their ability to change the world. The Goddess of Light is located on the front top of the mural on 18th St. welcoming everyone to The Women’s Building. She sits naked with her legs crossed, pregnant, arms to the sky holding the beam of light which shines on the entrance of the building. She sits firmly, unmovable, carrying the future generation. As Goddesses of Light, the women of CODEPINK also shine their light with the message of peace and social justice thus working hard to build a foundation for future generations.
Through community workshops on sexual violence, San Francisco Women Against Rape (SFWAR) break away from misconceptions that continue to place blame on survivors of sexual assault. The mural representation of Coyolxauhqui, the Aztec goddess of the moon is significant for SFWAR since the original image of her is of a dismembered body. This signifies the reconstruction of history in relationship to struggles. In the mural, Coyolxauhqui is an indigenous woman breaking out of the stone image behind her while holding a paintbrush. As Coyolxauhqui breaks out of the traditional image of dismemberment, so does SFWAR. SFWAR takes on the great task of healing and preventing sexual violence, piecing together the brokenness of survivors, and offering survivors a paint brush to re-tell their stories.
Members from Mujeres Unidas y Activas (MUA) consist of women from Latin America. Many members are juggling isolation related to immigrating to the United States, where a foreign language is spoken and communal ties are lost. For MUA, the image of Mayan activist Rigoberta Menchu atop Maestra Peace conveys an emotional familiarity. Rigoberta Menchu is from Guatemala and appears in the mural dressed in traditional Mayan huipil and head piece. There is a flower flowing from her mouth conveying speech. Menchu is brown-skinned, speaks a dialect considered “foreign” in her country, and she too is a survivor of violence–a fighter. Members of Mujeres Unidas y Activas, like Rigoberta Menchu, are active leaders in their community, fighting for social justice in a society that deems them foreign and incapable.
For CODEPINK, SFWAR, and MUA, MaestraPeace is a symbol of women’s resistance and continued struggle. Three months ago, TWB restored the MaestraPeace mural with the original seven artists adding a layer of acryloid seal which will preserve it for another 100 years, allowing future generations and organizations to be inspired by our past as we work as a community for equality, peace, freedom, and justice for all women.
Written by Daisy Isarraras