Remember The Triangle Fire Coalition

Triangle Fire Open Archive

Cultural Response

Mural, Victory of Light over Darkness

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Mural-Asch-building-fire_low_rez

Contributed by : Amanda Pietrzykowski

Object # 165

1938

Visiting the mural at the High School of Fashion Industries was an amazing experience. Its location within the school’s auditorium is particularly interesting. The audience is mainly high school students who are studying some of the same trades that the workers in the Triangle Fire were engaged in. In this way, students are constantly reminded of how the ILGWU helped change the garment industry, of which they are now a part.

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Commentary

Ernest Fiene, a German-born muralist who was employed by the WPA during the New Deal, was commissioned in 1938 to paint a mural in the auditorium of the Central High School of Needle Trades in New York City. The first half of the mural, “Victory of Light over Darkness,” represents the terrible conditions the working-class faced prior to Union involvement. Towards the right of the mural is the ominous green figure of Greed towering over garment workers. An allegory of Enlightenment stands behind a group of early reformers and strikers (representing the 1909 “Uprising of 20,000”) and points grimly to the burning Asch building, indicating both the inadequacy of previous reform attempts and the need for real, meaningful change.
-Emily Wright

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