Migrant & Seasonal Head Start, Woodland, CA
39839 Road 17A, Woodland, CA 95766
UC Davis Chicana/o Studies Mural Workshop
Directed by Maceo Montoya
Status: Good condition
Photographers: Workshop participants, James Prigoff
Migrant and Seasonal Head Start Program Mural
Commitment: Fulfillment through Persistence
Through interviews and numerous discussions, “Commitment: Fulfillment through Persistence” emerged as the main theme of our mural. It is through the commitment and dedicated persistence of the staff, parents and volunteers of Migrant Head Start that the children in this program achieve fulfillment in their young lives.
Right Side Wall
Beginning on the right side wall, in the upper right corner, we’ve depicted the obstacles that Migrant Head Start and those who participate in the program have endured in the past and continue to endure today. The images represent the struggles of migrant workers and their families, as well as the continued administration of the program in the face of budget cuts. The image of the US/Mexican Border represents the difficult journey that many families involved in the Migrant Head Start undertook to arrive in this country. Barbed wire along the fence separates the federal funds and the workers in the fields, emphasizing the drastic divide between the money and the people it serves. Additionally, a crop duster represents the dangers migrant workers encounter in the fields. The book, picket signs, and the United Farm Worker’s flag represent the struggle for self-determination, education, equality, and community empowerment. Below these images, a mass of figures form an arch representing the vast numbers of migrant workers who travel in search of work to support their families. Their backs face the viewer to illustrate their often unseen and underappreciated existence. At the top of the arch the people begin to face forward, transforming into individuals, emphasizing the fact that each migrant has his or her own unique story. Moving leftward, there is a large father kneeling with a box of tomatoes who embodies the workers in the fields and canneries. He also offers the tomatoes as a way to contribute to Migrant Head Start.
Next to the man, transitioning to the central panel, a farmworker mother holds a baby. The mother is protectively holding the child, looking towards Migrant Head Start for assistance. Behind her a father figure holds his tool bucket, emphasizing the important extra work that is contributed by Migrant Head Start parents. Soaring across the sky is a swallow that mirrors the travels of the migrant families. To its left are jigsaw puzzle fields, signifying both the crops and the different members of the community who come together to achieve Migrant Head Start’s common purpose. Below the fields a bus is ascending the shawl of the central figure, accentuating the important role that transportation plays in the program. The central image depicts a woman holding an infant, representing nurture and care. Her dress transforms into the roots of a tree, symbolizing not only her deep connection with the earth, but also the long history of Migrant Head Start, as well as the program’s mission to maintain strong ties to family and culture. Her roots also pay tribute to the women who create the strong foundation for the children at Migrant Head Start. It is with this foundation that these children not only succeed, but also return to give back to their community. The roots also show the growth of both the program and the people it serves. Above the central figure, tree branches reach out across the entire piece, unifying all three walls as well as the people beneath. Engraved on the branches are words written in both Spanish and English defining the mission of Migrant Head Start such as education and success. The seasons are portrayed on the tree branches, which move from spring to winter, also emphasizing the importance of the agricultural seasons. To the left of the central image, are a playground and farm animals, which the children have lovingly nicknamed El Parque (the park). Depicted on the far left below the branches is the Head Start community, including cooks, teachers, students, and parents. This corner of individuals represents the commitment and dedication of the program. In the bottom left corner the cook displays the abundance of nutrition, health, and support that the children receive. The teacher is reading a book about Mariposas (butterflies) to a circle of children. The butterflies represent the dreams and aspirations of the students as well as the growth and transformation that the children will experience over the course of their time at Migrant Head Start. The parents are shown present and involved in their children’s lives.
Left Side Wall
Lastly, on the left wall, a sun is rising over the fields on the horizon. With each sunrise a new day begins again. Children get ready for school, parents get ready for work, and the Migrant Head Start staff prepare for the children to arrive. The windchime hanging from the tree branch is a marker for the safety and liveliness at the school. Moreover, the sunrise symbolizes the rising above adversity not just in the daily lives of the children but also for the families that must endure life lived on the margins. The changing sky is a unifying element in the mural. It transitions from dawn to mid-day sunshine, and slowly fades to twilight, reprenting the long hours spent in the fields as well as at the Head Start.