New National Art Honor Society Mural on Our Campus

Esther Lian, Staff Writer

The artistry of seven imaginative minds recently manifested in the form of a new and colorful addition to our school campus. Last summer, the newly-elected cabinet of our National Art Honor Society (NAHS) brought their art outside of the studio. Armed with brushes, acrylic paint, and determination, they painted an eight-foot-tall mural in Principal Kurtenbach’s office. The endeavor began with a request from the Principal two years ago, but coronavirus lockdowns prevented progress – until last July.

The inspiration was a quote from the school website, which states that: 

“The fundamental purpose of the SMUSD is to encourage each student to develop his/her intellectual, social, and personal qualities in order to participate fully in an interconnected community – be it local or global.” 

The final student-owned design comprises four students climbing atop two hands on the brink of interlocking to reflect the invaluable support of adults throughout the 4-year journey of SMHS’ students. A pupil with a book and a backpack represents the celebrated academics; a leaping dancer in a pink tutu symbolizes the diverse art forms that are nurtured; an athlete dribbling a basketball captures the thriving sporting spirit, and finally, a graduate in royal blue to stand for the decades of alumni the school is proud to have groomed. This composition is cast against the background of a globe to signify how students are always encouraged to look outwards to the service of their communities and the world at large.

Under the guidance of adviser and teacher Ms. Michelle Pauline, the team set to work. Over a week, they sanded, primed, gridded, sketched and painted. The arduous process tested the resolve of the group, as they were determined to complete the task within a compressed schedule to minimize inconvenience to the administration.

“This was definitely the biggest piece of art I have ever attempted,” Isabelle Kang, NAHS Secretary, said. “But while a collaborative piece of such a scale is challenging, it also taught us a lot about trust and confidence.” 

“Painting was the most enjoyable part of the project for me. It was so fun combining all seven of our diverse art styles into one massive mural,” Valerie Kuo, Publicity Manager, said.  

Gradually, the mural came to life. For everyone involved, the smile that it brought to Mr. Kurtenbach’s face when he saw the finished product for the first time made the effort all worthwhile. 

“I am so proud of us for working so well together over the course of this project,” Esther Lian, NAHS President, said. “It is such a privilege to work with these talented artists and friends.”

Since its installation, requests have been pouring in for NAHS to add their splash of art in other spaces on our campus. We wait in eager anticipation for the next pop of color that will brighten the walls of San Marino High.