“Tribal Wave” was a collaboration with the MHS Art Club, and Marianas High School. The MHS Art Club raised money to fund the project and help beautify the campus. Students worked alongside community members to complete the project on the Art Building at MHS.
Saipan is an American territory that is part of a remote chain of islands in the Pacific Ocean called the Northern Mariana Islands. As an island culture, the students are particularly drawn to tribal designs and tattoos. Mascots of feeder schools, as well as the MHS mascot, have been transformed into tribal designs and integrated throughout the mural. The school colors are the inspiration for the color scheme.
The “Tribal Wave” is the first big project collaborating with the MHS Art Club. It was a result of hard work raising funds throughout the year. Seeing the sense of accomplishment these students had after completing a task bigger than anything they had ever imagined doing is something that changed the way I look at public art. The mural sent a positive ripple effect through the student body and faculty. Everyone was excited to come to school and see the mural for the first time. It could not have come at a more opportune time to help lift the spirits of the community.
The students and community members dedicated their free time during the summer to complete the “Tribal Wave”. As school was set to start in early August, Saipan was devasted by a super typhoon and a State of Emergency was declared. The start of the school year was delayed as many families had lost everything. Many of us jumped into action delivering food and water while setting up FEMA tents for families that had lost their homes. After a few weeks school started and ran for a month and a half with no electricity. Despite the tragic events, students were eager to get back to school and get to work. This was the first time many of them had seen the project their peers collaborated to complete over the summer. For a moment, it seemed to shift the attention away from the hardships everyone was experiencing. The MHS Art Club quickly assembled and started planning on efforts to create a new mural on the library.
This was a great learning experience for everyone involved. It taught us a lot about public art and the positive impact it can have on the community. The students of Saipan have forever changed me as an artist. This collaboration helped form the foundation of a public art project that would soon travel over 8,000 miles away to Saint Petersburg, Florida.