Visualizing Birth through the Work of The Haight Ashbury Muralists

Educate to Liberate, John Adams Community College Mural, 2012
Haight Ashbury Muralists: Jan Norling, Vicky Hamilin, Thomas Kunz, Miranda Bergman, Arch Williams, Peggy Tucker
Detail of Mother and Child: Miranda Bergman

Photograph of Mother and Child
Copyright 2020, Anna Hennessey, All Rights reserved.

Spreading across a Hayes Street wall that turns around the block on Masonic Street in front of San Francisco’s John Adams Community College, rests the Educate to Liberate mural, a major work of the Haight Ashbury Muralists. All the way to the farthest right corner of the wall on Masonic is the detail above, which represents a mother and child. As described in the wonderful documentary, Peoples Wall, which tells the story of the mural’s creation, all of the artists worked together in leadership and artistic decision when making the mural. According to information on the SF Mural Arts website, artist Miranda Bergman painted this portion of the mural.

The detail depicts a baby flowing from its mother’s womb and body. The mother has a serene and uplifted expression on her face, and her child appears strong and playful, hanging onto a red ribbon in the midst of the gushing water. While the picture does not necessarily depict the event of birth, it reminded me immediately of the birth of my first child, Kieran, which occurred when I visualized a river flowing from my own body and a baby riding its waters outward. That event and process of visualization, one of the most powerful experiences of my life, is described here.

The image can be used for birth by imagining the baby’s emergence as one of flow and movement. Visualization of water or a river carrying the baby outward can help with physiological transformation and opening as the woman labors or gives birth.

Miranda Bergman is a celebrated muralist who has created work in the United States, Mexico, Central America, and Palestine. She is also a teacher and author, and has been a member of community art movements for over 40 years.