Saturday, February 18

Breathing Free

Edward Laning and assistants work on his Ellis Island mural.
"Two days before the Fourth of July, Judge Marilyn Go walked into the ceremonial courtroom of the Theodore Roosevelt Federal Courthouse in downtown Brooklyn. She was there to grant citizenship to the 267 people seated and waiting. In front of her were faces of all ages and colors. The greatest numbers were from China, the Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Bangladesh, India, and South Korea, though there are also immigrants from Nepal, Uzbekistan, Azerbaijan, Guyana, Israel, and Liberia; in all, over 50 countries were represented. Here was a microcosm of the global poor — a cross section of nations wracked by civil war and poverty. ... On August 25, 1937, the artist Edward Laning was dismayed to read in the New York Herald Tribune that his mural would not stay on the walls. 'That Big Mural Won’t Stay Put Even If Pasted,' said the headline. New Yorkers had long been anticipating the completion of the work, due to be installed at Ellis Island, but because of a new adhesive being used, the surface of the mural was 'bulging out in tiny ripples and large bubbles which had to be pricked and ripped and then pasted back more firmly.' This was not welcome news, as delays had already drawn out the project for four years. ..."
W - Edward Laning

A detail from Laning’s The Role of the Immigrant in the Industrial Development of America.