Mutual Housing at Spring Lake, Woodland, CA
2170 Farmers Central Rd
Woodland, CA 95776
UC Davis Chicana/o Studies Mural Workshop
Directed by Maceo Montoya
Status: Good condition
Photographer: Angelica Flores, workshop participants
Spring 2015 Chicana/o Studies Mural Workshop at Mutual Housing at Spring Lake, Woodland, CA
The Fruits of Our Labor
This mural represents the life journey of the community of Mutual Housing at Spring Lake. The imagery depicts the different turns life can take, while displaying the various narratives of community members. The cultivation of the land, the fruits of their labor, and the foundation of a family home are all represented as goals, achievements and healing happening concurrently in full circle. This mural serves as a reflection of the humility, faith, and hope found in the communities.
The story of our mural begins with the migration of the beautiful Monarch butterfly against the sunrise, which calls the workers to the fields. As the Monarchs travel patterns consist of migrating north, from Southern Mexico to Canada, often taking generations and entire lifetimes to reach their destination. As with the story of the butterflies, our community takes the same leap and journey, experiencing the entirety of the land. The monarchs fly past the burdensome sight of a plane, trumping its aerial application of toxicity, symbolizing the communities power in overcoming all struggle.
There are fields in the background of the mural and they represent the working conditions this community resiliently fights against. It is their lucha and sacrifice, but their will and ganas help them persist and overcome struggle. The larger fruits framing the field portray the end result after hard work, and, in a sense, the farm workers giving back to the community. The Monarchs land and connect to the abundance of the crop, the heart of our mural, in the mother’s grasp.
Las tres hermanas is a form of agriculture based off indigenous knowledge. It consists of three important crops, which are corn, squash and bean. The beans rise up the corn stalk and the corn stalk provides shade for the squash. While these crops are usually planted separately, it is known from indigenous wisdom that these vegetables grow better together. This form of agriculture says that efficiency in harvest is best through collaboration and support.
(Note: one of the butterflies on the far right will be replaced by a hummingbird) A Native fable tells the story of animals in the forest who were evacuating a growing forest fire. All the animals quickly fled, except the small hummingbird. Unlike the rest of the animals, the hummingbird flew towards the fire with water in his beak. The animals asked why it kept flying back and forth if its efforts were unlikely to put out the fire. The hummingbird said, “At least I’m doing something.” This represents the efforts of this community, although small in the eyes of some, it represents resiliency and determination to overcome large obstacles no matter how impossible they may appear.
“Siempre has todo con amor” The mother with the child on her back, on the right side of the mural, is holding a bundle of fruits and vegetables that she harvested in the fields. At the center of the bundle lies her heart, el corazón. The harvested vegetables are sprouting from her heart to symbolize the connection the woman feels toward the earth and the fruits of her labor. “Vale la pena trabajar en el campo y es hermoso, es un orgullo, y valoro mi trabajo” It represents the love and pride that the woman has for her hard work.
The mother represents the challenging and important roles that women have within the community. As workers, teachers and providers to their families, they give fruit to the aspirations and ultimately, the success or logros of their children. In the zarape, we see an educator reading to children and giving them the knowledge they need to continue their schooling. Graduating students are seen reaching their goals and fulfilling the dreams of their family.
The zarape that spans across the mural represents the dreams, goals, and values of the community. The zarape wraps around the mother and her child, signifying her nurturing protection. As she works tirelessly in the fields, she continues to raise and support the growth of her child.
The zarape twines into another fieldworker on the upper left part of the mural holding out his hands. This represents the hard working conditions that many of the fieldworkers have as well as the idea of extending a hand, to “dar la mano,” which can be also interpreted as an opportunity for guidance. This respect for others and respect for one’s self is reflected in the pride in doing work with their own hands.
“Tu eres una semillita y quiero que crezcas con buenas raices, quiero que mis hijos crescan como un árbol frondoso y que den muchos frutos” The fruits in the lower right corner of the mural represent a community who is enjoying the crops that they have harvested after a season of care and growth. It is also representative of the fruits of their struggle in their personal lives with overcoming daily obstacles of hard work and harsh working conditions through resiliency and sacrifice. The fruits of their personal lives are happiness despite these obstacles, their children who are continuing on to receive an education that they were never able to get themselves, and the empowerment they feel with seeing their hard work paying off.
Along with the zarape resembling unity and protectiveness, the community image also portrays the bond that is often found and needed in a housing complex like Mutual Housing at Spring Lake. It is through community where people feel safe and a place where they feel they can speak up about their problems. It is through this image on the zarape where unity, safety, respect and protection come together as one.