Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Labor Heroes Live On At Stetson Branch Library (New Haven)

At New Haven Free Library's Stetson Branch three proposed murals that vividly capture the labor movement in mosaic, acrylic paint and photography are displayed behind the circulation desk in the library.
In the artwork images of Augusta Lewis Troup, Nick Aiello, Philip Voigt, and Vincent Sirabella shout loudly, carrying signs, banners, and megaphones.
All three proposals are in the running to decorate the renovated Troup Magnet Academy of Science when construction finishes in August, 2007.
The displays in Stetson Branch Library are part of New Haven’s Percent for Art Program, begun in 1981. A city law requires that the government spend 1% of its construction budget on artwork for the intended buildings.

Augusta Lewis Troup, the school's namesake, was one of New Haven's true all-time heroines. She organized America's first-ever female labor union. She also published a local newspaper that was the first in Connecticut to advocate women's suffrage.

Augusta Lewis Troup [1848-1920] was included in the Princeton University Library Exhibit, "UNSEEN HANDS: WOMEN PRINTERS, BINDERS, AND BOOK DESIGNERS."
At the age of 18, Troup became a reporter on the New York Sun, then worked as a typesetter on New York Era and the New York World. She helped Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton found The Revolution and was both a journalist and a typesetter for the publication. In 1869 she was elected president of the Women's Typographical Union, and then became the first woman to hold a national union office: corresponding secretary of the International Typographical Union. Her successful efforts to bring women typographers into full equality with men in the ITU unfortunately caused the WTU to disband in 1878.

The artistic competition for the Troup Magnet Academy for Science stipulated that proposals “memorialize the New Haven Labor Movement, throughout different time periods, beginning with and/or including Augusta Lewis Troup,” said a press release from the New Haven Office of Cultural Affairs.
This work of art should encompass a wider view of labor struggles and/or union history, as labor history is also community history. This new commission will be located somewhere in the new addition of the school, to correspond with preexisting WPA murals, which are being preserved in the original part of the building.

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