Murals of Birth and Pregnancy on San Francisco’s Women’s Building
Photographs from womensbuilding.org
The San Francisco Women’s Building is a landmark built in San Francisco’s Mission District in 1910. In 1994, seven women artists and their many assistants painted two entire sides of the building in the creation of a massive mural, Maestrapeace, which means “woman teacher of peace.” These artists included Juana Alicia, Miranda Bergman, Edythe Boone, Susan Kelk Cervantes, Meera Desai, Yvonne Littleton and Irene Perez.
Located on 18th Street between Valencia and Guerrero Streets, images of numerous figures in the history of women adorn the large walls of the building. These figures range from the historical to the mythical, but also include women from everyday life as they work or provide care. At the very top of the 18th Street side of the building’s mural sits a pregnant woman with her arms and head raised to the sky. Painted sunshine streams through her hands and across body, shining both over her form and over the baby in her womb, the latter of which is painted as glowing forth beneath the woman’s breasts.
This entire mural mesmerizes those who view it. For a pregnant woman, it is indeed an empowering site to view the painted pregnant woman seated at the top of the building, cradling her baby within, arms raised to the sky. In the visualization of pregnancy and birth, women may imagine a glow encompassing their own babies who are being nurtured inside the body. Prenatal yoga classes sometimes emphasize visualization that involves nurturing the baby within by imagining a glow that protects mother and child.