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The Bracero Monument: A Tribute to the Human Spirit

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Monuments are important public structures that embrace the greater values of societies and the character of the human spirit. They carry profound cultural, intellectual, and historical references representing the ideals that unite and connect people with one another. Freedom, sacrifice, love, individuality, peace, and innovation are just a few of those values they are meant to signify.

The Bracero Monument is a public art project in the city of Los Angeles, California. It recognizes a crucial period of American history dating from the times of WWII to the Sixties. During these time periods, the Mexican Farm Labor Program becomes a significant enterprise that changes economies and the lives of many families. The Bracero Program, as it is usually called, tests people's endurance, values, and character. The Bracero workers become the backbone of many businesses. Their contributions to the economy and their personal sacrifices are profound. Their journey is one of hard-work, commitment, and hope.

Our vision for the Bracero Monument aims to capture their spirit. The Braceros’ contributions have been unknown to the general public and most Americans as well. Thus, this monument is meant to change that. The Bracero Monument wishes to educate the public about their sacrifices. It hopes to tell their unique experiences and stories while having the appropriate sensibility to be a powerful and honest homage to the Bracero workers.

The Bracero Monument is meant to capture their spirit, struggles, and dreams while it recognizes their immeasurable contributions.

© MetropolitanmomentuM

A Brief History

© MetropolitanmomentuM
In the U.S. through the time periods of the 1940’s, 50’s, and 60’s the Mexican Farm Labor Program offers temporary agricultural work for Mexican men. During World War II, most of the local food production depends on their manual labor. Men taking part of the program work under harsh conditions in agricultural fields while living together in camps distanced from their families. It has been suggested that these men’s intimate understanding of the land, their fundamental determination to provide their families with a better life, and their work ethics were vital to the entire agricultural industry and economic growth. Their total contributions to the national economy, local communities, and families across the U.S. and Mexico are immeasurable. Most of them selflessly and tirelessly work the agricultural fields under intensive manual labor and challenging living conditions in order to earn an income to provide for their families and loved ones. This monument characterizes the Bracero as an individual full of dreams, dignity, and power.

It honors his life by presenting it as a true testament of greater human values and self-sacrifice.

The Monument

As an individual, the mind and spirit of each man hold a unique vision of himself and his future. The Bracero workers are individual men with numerous and particular aptitudes and personal aspirations selflessly channeling all of them into one single promising opportunity to work the agricultural fields to provide for their loved ones. It is a journey where brothers, cousins, uncles, friends, and fathers help shaping their families’ future in hopes for a better life while becoming the backbone of the agricultural industry.

The monument consists of five individual metal bars. These metal bars are visible from the sidewalk and adjacent streets. At the ground level, single rows of vegetated areas separate the metal bars. The bars are embedded in the floor and sidewalk. They bend upwards rising elegantly taking different paths to form a variety of shapes. These metal bars have letters written on their surface. The individual words are placed in a single row. The letters written on the bars start from the street level and they gradually rise up facing the pedestrians directly as they continue moving up.

This monument embraces the bracero’s individuality as well as his noble life choices and his sacrifices.

© MetropolitanmomentuM

Representing History and Memories Through Public Art

The Bracero Monument attempts to touch the human spirit by telling their stories and relating to people in a beautiful way. Once people arrive at the site, they see on the floor five individual metal bars embedded in the ground and sidewalk. The bars are separated by vegetated rows. These vegetated stripes represent crops. The metal embedded in the ground portraits the Bracero being one with the land. The long metal solid bar represents his path being cast and forged at the fields. It becomes a path of dreams. The path bends upwards departing from the ground standing vertically. The metal bar takes unique forms. It represents the individuality of each man and his own hopes for the future. The bars have words on them. They are visible to pedestrians walking on the sidewalk. The words written on a single metal bar are a compilation of letters from an individual Bracero worker writing to his loved ones. The letters, collected from his family members, tell unique stories about the man. Each bar embedded in the ground describes the Bracero’s emotions, thoughts, and personal experiences. The bar keeps rising up with words telling stories of his aspirations taking shape. As the words elevate higher and higher making it almost impossible to read them, the monument continues rising up in the form of light.

© MetropolitanmomentuM

Different Perspectives

The Bracero Monument engages pedestrians, bystanders, and drivers. The monument allows people to experience it differently depending on where they stand. Pedestrians can experience it in many different ways as they walk along the street. When they approach the monument they see a combination of vertical bars turning and twisting. All bars are dynamic and elegant. If viewers are close enough, they can stop to read and appreciate the Braceros’ lives and dreams in more detail. People standing far from the monument may see it elegantly reaching to the sky celebrating the lives of these men.

As one moves around the Bracero Monument, it may resemble a strong arm, a hand, a group of Braceros, or a multitude of graceful human figures outlined in the firmament. The monument attempts to capture the many layers of the Braceros’ spirit.

© MetropolitanmomentuM

A Homage

The monument embraces the enduring power of the human spirit, and the Braceros' direct and complex relationship to the land they harvest. The Bracero story is full of challenges and countless sacrifices. Each individual's journey is full of generosity, humanity, and intricacy. The Bracero worker finds himself being fundamental to preserving, maintaining, and supporting the agricultural industry with his own manual labor while providing for his loved ones. His work is one of creation that is rooted to the very earth he helps to transform, to sustain, and to cultivate. This monument attempts to honors these men’s vital contributions to society by capturing their essence and relating their sacrifices, dreams, and lives to all of us.

© 2017 MetropolitanmomentuM. The Bracero Monument is designed by Maria Kuzminskaia and Pablo Osorio

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