Art is essential



Art is Guam’s natural intelligence. All forms of art – music, visual arts, cultural heritage, literature and arts education. Marvel at the award-winning dance performances. Feel your soul lifted as you hear Guam singers. Appreciate the paintings as they speak to you. Guam people are naturally talented at creating, displaying, demonstrating and performing.


The arts are just as essential as the sciences.


When Guam charter schools opened in 2009, it was a dream that Southern High become Guam’s Fine Arts Charter School – preschool through high school. Can you imagine the accomplishments that would beam through those halls?


There have been consistent advocates for the arts. During the 90s, K Rhymer, GDOE school program consultant for art in the C&I unit, facilitated student art shows at the Hilton and Pacific Star. “Trucks & Rainbows” was an annual favorite. Isla Center for the Arts began nurturing our youngest students in 1977 through its Art-a-Thon. Isla would display the masterpieces at their gallery in Dean’s Circle.


It makes great sense that the University of Guam realizes its vision of nurturing Guam’s future from the start. Then UOG President Pedro Sanchez nurtured this value when he established the Insular Arts Council in 1967. It late became the Guam Council on the Arts and Humanities Agency.


When the pandemic hit, this work continued. Dr. Velma Yamashita, associate professor of art and coordinator for Isla Center of the Arts, got creative. The show must go on, she knew. And, it did. The first-ever UOG virtual undergraduate art exhibit sprung to life in 2020, followed by Creative Hands, a juried display of local artists. This semester, the Gallery Management and Exhibition Design Class facilitated the Art-a –Thon in a virtual environment.


A total of 91 students from Agana Heights Elementary, Daniel L. Perez Elementary, J.Q. San Miguel Elementary, Luis P. Untalan Middle, Marcial Sablan Elementary, Maria A. Ulloa Elementary, M.U. Lujan Elementary, Simon Sanchez High and Talofofo Elementary participated. “Students were asked to create a work of art that depicts what has helped them through this difficult time – to depict their light during Covid.”


Check out the entries by clicking on My Light During Covid Virtual Exhibition. You’ll love them. Special thanks to the teachers who kept the momentum going. The “Best in Show” went to Linzy Delfin, SSHS. Dr. Ron Canos is her art teacher. “Preserved Optimism” is inspiring. Thank you, Linzy and special thanks, Dr. Canos.


The Gallery Management and Exhibition Design Class also posted tutorials on how to use digital media. The Triton geniuses are Roybert Bautista, Nathaniel Belangue, Margaret Espino, Pauline Paulo, Anthony Gallego, Alecs Andrew Gan, Jhoanna Antonio, & Sydney Prudente.


While campuses were closed, projects such as this showed that online activity was bursting with leadership, creativity and hard work. Much learning continued, as did much teaching. Job well done, Dr. Yamashita!


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C’zer Medina, founder and director of the Guan Allied Dance Force shared how Guam Allied Dance Force with Natibu Dance Academy, Inetnon Gef’pago Cultural Dance, Guma’ Nina’en Acho’ Latte, UOG TC Dance, Simon Sanchez High School Dance Team, Santa Barbara Catholic School, All-Star GATE Dance, Providence International Christian Academy, Ballroom Community, Bboyz Guam, La Danse Ballet School, Guam Ballet Company, GATE Theater with Ernest Ochoco, Stargazer, SKIP and DanzJazz lifted Guam when isolation and fear became too familiar. They hosted the Guam Dance Festival Virtual Christmas Dance Showcase “Hope, Love & Peace.” Thank you for helping Christmas be Merry.


Joe Guam and his wife, Jackie, lifted us through porch performances. His gift of song had 60,000 views appreciating his spirit of caring and giving. Check him out at joeguam.com. Their good vibes and positive spirit are much needed and we are grateful.


One more time, Guam is great. The people are true treasures – smart, talented, giving. There is much to be proud of. From here, we go upwards – full of faith, hope and love. Let art lead the way.


Aline Yamashita is a mom, a teacher and former senator. She served in the 31st and 32 Guam Legislatures. You may write to her at aline4families@gmail.com.




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