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With Visiting Artist at Their Side, Nome Students Paint Mural Inspired by Their Hometown

Man holds toddler in his hands while they look at a large, colorful mural.

Soon to be adding color to the city’s streets is a new mural painted by students at Anvil City Science Academy (ACSA) depicting life in Nome. The artwork was made possible by visiting artist Kristin Link from McCarthy, who spent two weeks at ACSA as part of the statewide Artists in Schools program.

The final piece was unveiled at a community celebration Friday evening at ACSA, where a crowd of around 50 parents, children, and community members admired the new mural. 

According to Link, the mural connects Nome’s landscape and history with the activities Nomeites enjoy doing on that landscape, and the sense of community it fosters. 

“The school wanted to tie it to something they were studying this year, and in the fall, they studied geology. But when I got here, I worked with the students to talk about what was important to them… I worked with them on putting it together into a design and composition, and we all painted it together.”

In the foreground is the tundra in summer: moose, reindeer, and musk ox graze, while a woman and child collect berries. Behind them, another woman and child look down at the city of Nome from a hillside. Old St. Joseph’s church is identifiable among the dots of colorful buildings. 

Close-up detail of a large mural, depicting moose, muskoxen, and words saying "Respect Elders, Nature, and Yourself; Grateful; Sharing; Humility."
Detail of the ACSA mural. Photo: Katie Kazmierski, KNOM.

The details go on: it’s not just one scene, but several at once. At the bottom of the mural, there’s a cutaway section looking underground. Written here are words like “sharing,” “humility,” “humor,” “subsistence,” and “respect: elders, nature, and yourself.” Link says this is her favorite part of the mural.

“One thing that struck me when I asked the students about Nome and what was important to them about this place, they talked about the community, and the strong Inupiaq and other cultural values. So one day in the beginning of class, I had them write on a slip of paper, ‘what are your values?’ or ‘what values do you think are important to this community?’ So those words all came from those lists and that conversation with the students, and it was something I totally hadn’t planned on when I got here.”

ACSA students spent the first week with Link practicing drawing and painting and brainstorming ideas for the mural. The second week was all about creating the final piece. From start to finish, the whole project took just one week to put together. Link says that’s thanks to 60 students working together to paint, paint, and paint some more.

The Artists in Schools program that allowed Link to visit Nome is funded in part by the Alaska State Council on the Arts, a state entity that Governor Mike Dunleavy looks to eliminate with his proposed budget.

ACSA Principal Lisa Leeper says it’s undetermined where exactly in Nome the new mural will be displayed. Front Street is a possibility, but the school isn’t ruling out other possible locations. A final decision will be made in the coming weeks. 

Image at top: A Nome man and young child inspect the mural created by students at Anvil City Science Academy. Photo: Katie Kazmierski, KNOM.