RIVER GUARDIANS: San Marcos Arts Commission and community celebrate new art installation

The community of San Marcos came together to celebrate and dedicate a new art installation near the San Marcos River.

The art installation “Guardians of the San Marcos River” was designed and created by students of San Marcos High School to depict the creation story attributed to the indigenous Coahuiltecan people.

“This artwork will serve as a reminder of the responsibility of all of us to be stewards of our precious river and to pass that responsibility on to future generations,” Mayor Jane Hughson said at Thursday’s dedication ceremony. “I’m so happy it was created by high school students who are our future.”

The “Guardians of the San Marcos River” is a permanent art installation located at Ramon Lucio Park, 601 South CM Allen Parkway, consisting of six panels illustrating the creation story of the indigenous Coahuiltecan people and the five guardian spirits of the San Marcos River. Marks.

Each panel features a tile mosaic designed by students at San Marcos High School under the direction of Thom Rogers, Project Manager and former Visual Arts Team Leader at San Marcos High School. Each student was chosen by the San Marcos Arts Commission and awarded a $500 scholarship. There are over 1,000 individual tiles created by SMHS students and faculty. In total, about 750 students contributed to the process.

“The idea was that we were going to break it up into a grid and have all of these kids paint their names on individual tiles,” Rogers said. “So what you see here is 750 students kind of declaring that they’re guardians of the river. So that was a nice part of that is we actually reminded those children that they are the stewards of the future of this river. I love this river. I love this city.

Dr. Mario Garza, chairman of the council of elders of the Institute of Indigenous Cultures, who presented the story of the creation of Coahuiltecan and dedicated the art installation on Thursday with a song, said he was happy to see the project completed. .

“When I proposed [the art project]it was just before the pandemic and then Thom [Rogers] started working on it,” Garza said. “Before I knew it, the pandemic hit and everything was shut down. Later they were able to continue. So there are a lot of people I want to thank. Thom for guiding the students in making this project, then all the more than 170 students who participated… I would like to thank the students for the excellent work they have done.

The works of the six students chosen for the installation were Leela Jackson: “The Creation Story”; Brynna Wharton: “Panama” (deer); Michaela Manriquez: “Pa-uta’p” (eagle); Isabella Elmore: “Miakan” (water bird); Sage Gonzales: “Apamxuepet” (jaguar); and Faith Voorhis: “Clam paya yuye” (wolf).

The Parks and Recreation Advisory Board, San Marcos Arts Commission, and San Marcos City Council approved the installation for $8,000 in 2018. Student designs were selected by the Arts Commission in 2019. Tile work, final assembly and site installation have been postponed to this year due to the impacts of the pandemic on in-person education and school attendance.

After the art installation was completed, Jackson said it was heartwarming to see the community’s reaction to the project during Thursday’s groundbreaking ceremony.

“I never really suspected that a project like this would be within my grasp,” said Jackson, who recently graduated from San Marcos High School in May. “But, I was like, ‘I’m going to go out there and do it anyway.’ Every time I got the call, I was like, ‘There’s no way I won this, like what?’ Seeing the process unfold and it was really cool to see how everyone worked as a team to complete it all.

Wharton, a 2019 San Marcos High School graduate, said it made her happy to see the art project come to fruition.

“The project just stalled during covid. I didn’t know if it would ever come back,” Wharton said. “So I got the message a few weeks ago that it was finally in place and it made me so happy… It’s so exciting to have something for everyone to see in a permanent exhibition It makes me excited that maybe this can be an inspiration to someone else.

Aurora J. William