Anvil City Science Academy students create mural of their community
Students at the Anvil City Science Academy with the help of a commercial artist created a mural, which features Nome and much that goes with it. The artist, Kristin Link of McCarthy, was funded for a two-week stay through the Artists in Schools program.
“She’s a science illustrator,” said Lisa Leeper, principal at ACSA. “We found her through the Alaska State Council on the Arts. We were looking for somebody to correlate with this year’s theme, which is science. One of them is geology and we also try to work with other concepts such as community and our history. That’s what led us to choosing her.”
The grant asked for involvement from the Nome community as well as from the students. They did a lot of brainstorming the first week, including sketches, and artist Link collected them and started thinking about ways they’d be organized into a mural. “For me my idea was getting the students to thinking about the land and what was important to them about their surroundings and their community,” said Link. “Working with their drawings and thoughts I came up with a design kind of tying together the landscape and the activities that are important to people there, including the plants and animals.”
“The kids painted throughout the week,” said Leeper. “The community members came in on Wednesday evening and also painted. Every single student painted on the mural multiple times and had a daily opportunity to get their reflection on it and tell anything they thought might need to be changed or updated or represented in some way.”
Link felt it was a great way for kids to get to work with an artist for two weeks. It’s something different, even for those who are not all that interested in observational drawing.
“I worked with one class a day and every day I felt like the kids enthusiastic and wanted to participate,” said Lisa Leeper. “I didn’t feel like we need to make anyone be part of the project.”
“They are a great group of kids,” said Link. “For me it was important that the students have buy-in or direct the process. I didn’t have a plan when I got there. So I think including them in that plan was cool.”
Max Gray and Nathan Waterman both worked on the mural and were enthusiastic about it. “It took a while because we had to make this side and then we had to draw up there,” said Nathan. “Then we drew animals and we had some ideas over there. We drew a map of Nome and then we put some people on there. And then there’s a plane, birds, houses, and Old St Joe’s.” Max explained how they wrote down on paper what they wanted to draw and what they like about Nome. “There’s Anvil Mountain, rivers,” said Nathan, pointing them out. “I see the dredge,” said Max, also pointing. “It took a while,” said Max. “Two weeks just to get done with this.” Asked if they got dirty they replied enthusiastically. “Yeah, we got dirty, lots of paint! We had fun doing it.”
The Artists in Schools program is supported by the State of Alaska and the National Endowment for the Arts with additional funding from the Rasmuson Foundation.