WGU What Would Defendants Coming Into the Court for Trial Think About Murals Ques
You are going to look at the images attached and think about the following information. You do not need to do any outside information.
The courthouse finished in 1934 and the frescos were commissioned through the WPA (See the textbook for more information on the WPA) using local Taos artists. The four artists came up with the theme “justice.” There is an image of Moses with the Ten Commandments on the end wall and the other murals go around the room.
Artists: Emil Bisttram (he studied with Diego Rivera), Ward Lockwood, Bert Philips, and Victor Higgins
They took three months to complete.
They were supposedly staying away from true historical events because those were still “bitter and controversial.” Meaning the exploitation of Native and Hispanic people in the region. The Spanish settled in the area in 1540, after looking for a fictional city made of gold. They brutalized the natives that lived in the pueblos in the area. The Native people rose up against the Spanish in 1680. At the end of the Mexican American War in 1847, there was a revolt at the pueblo because the people there did not want to become part of the United States. American troops attacked and bombarded the church, destroying everything except the bell tower, which still stands. They killed many of the Tiwa natives living there. The cemetery with their remains sits next to the bell tower.
The Taos Pueblo is the home to Tiwa Indians and is one of the oldest continuously inhabited communities in the United States. It is a UNESCO World Heritage site and there are about 150 people who live there year-round.
Things to think about:
What would the defendants coming into the court for a trial think about the murals?
What point of view do the murals represent? Pro-defendant or “law and order?”
Do you think the artists had the freedom to depict whatever they wanted or would the WPA tell them what to do?
What can the murals tell us about the relationship between Hispanic and indigenous people and Anglos in the area?