“We chose to do a whole landscape. It’s got the ocean on one side, fades into mountains with fireweed, salmon in the water, birds in the sky and a sunset. So we’ve got all of these elements that we see around town,” Nome-Beltz Middle High School student Jenae Matson said.
Seniors at Nome’s high school dedicated the spring 2022 semester to painting a 18-by-7-foot wall painting on one of the school’s entryway walls. Teacher Grace D’Antonio dreamed up the project and left the creative decision-making up to the students. They voted on a student sketch that combined pictures of life in Nome, including a boat owned by a local fisherman and a musk ox.
In much of rural Alaska, regular art classes are uncommon. Since Nome-Beltz’s art program began three years ago, it has allowed students to run with their creativity — to express themselves and their love for the beauty of Nome.
“I know coming into high school, my freshman year, there was no art class. But D’Antonio came to our school, and she really wanted to get it started. Everybody was learning as the class progressed because Nome-Beltz hasn’t had one in a long time. But, I mean now, it is year three and we are doing a mural; like a really big mural. I think it really has helped out in our school,” student Guadalupe Callahan said.
Callahan sees local art as an opportunity to connect worlds.
“Art is a very universal thing, and living in a small town in Alaska, it’s not very easy to come by. A lot of our stuff is donated or people just got rid of some old art tools and we decided to take them in and use them,” Callahan said.
Matson and Callahan hope this project will inspire future Nome artists.
Image at top: Students finished the Nome-Beltz mural in April. Photo courtesy of Katherine Garrison (2022).