A veteran athlete has expressed sentiments over the design of the mural at the Gilbert C. Ada Gymnasium, suggesting that women should be represented in the artwork.
The mural featured the CNMI flag, the islands’ crystal-clear blue waters, and three sports. However, all three figures representing basketball, weightlifting, and baseball are men.
“In our history, women have been pillars of the Chamorro and Carolinian cultures. We have long been participating in sports in the CNMI, proudly holding medals and titles for our accomplishments,” paddler Lorenza Aldan said.
Among the recent female athlete who had given honor to the Commonwealth is weightlifter Antoinette Labausa, a three-time gold medalist in the 2018 Micronesian Games in Yap. Aldan herself delivered hardware for the CNMI, as she clinched a bronze medal in the 2018 Micro Games and two silvers in the 2019 Micro Cup in Palau.
“As a female athlete and one whose ‘playground’ is right across the Ada Gym, I would love to see a woman athlete represented in the mural. This is not only a more accurate reflection of the sports community, but also serves as encouragement for our young athletes,” the Saipan Paddling Club member said.
“I am reaching out to your office, as the project directors, to please reconsider this design,” Aldan wrote in her letter to Department of Community and Cultural Affairs Secretary Robert Hunter.
DCCA secured the grant for the mural through the Commonwealth Council for Arts and Culture and the National Endowment for the Arts and Hunter quickly acknowledged Aldan’s concerns. The DCCA head added that changes in the design will be made as soon as possible.
The mural at the Ada Gymnasium is just the start of a series of improvements at the Oleai Sports Complex and its other facilities.
CNMI soccer player Ryan Relucio welcomed the new mural, especially at these trying times, as he believes it serves as a sign of hope for the community.
However, he agreed with the sentiments of Aldan, noting that women should be represented in the design, as well as other sports.
“The accomplishments of other sports that are not depicted in the mural, and of females who brought pride to the Commonwealth should be included and celebrated,” said Relucio.
He added that the need to redesign and redo the whole mural is unnecessary and suggested to have murals on the other parts of the facility.
Jeremiah Diaz, a student-athlete, wishes to have portraits of outstanding athletes in future murals.
“Maybe in the next mural they can have portraits of great coaches or players—past or present—in the CNMI,” Diaz said.
Halle Kenty of Dandan favored the old mural that represented majority of the sports played on island.
“The old mural really represented all the athletes of Saipan, both men and women. It had a vibrant meaning among all of us athletes,” Kenty said.
Maria (who requested to have her last name withheld) of Garapan echoed Kenty’s sentiments, but added that “This is a work of art, just appreciate it and how it looks. Art is not perfect.” (With Chevy Alipio)