Diego Rivera came to Detroit during the Great Depression and, in the very center of the DIA, created a tribute to industry and workers. These murals reveal Rivera’s fascination with industrial processes—and his critique of the political and social realities of capitalist enterprise.
The murals assert the benefits of industrial processes, but warn of their destructive side effects. The aviation industry produces planes for war as well as for travel. Scientific discoveries allow us to fight disease—and create poison gases.
Rivera also reminds us that all human endeavor is rooted in the natural world.
The scenes of Michigan industry—from chemical production to car manufacturing—are all accompanied by images of natural structures and processes. And in a prominent position facing the museum’s Woodward entrance, Rivera painted an infant in the bulb of a plan, nourished by the earth.