The Four Directions

The four-part mural series, titled “The Four Directions” is a concept inspired by all Native American tribes who revere the four directions as sacred and interconnected. In many Native American tribes across the Americas, there is a cultural and spiritual significance to each of the four cardinal directions. Although the four directions is a universal symbol amongst many Indigenous American cultures, its symbolism is unique and varies based on region, spiritual beliefs and tribal practices. At its core, the Four Directions, more commonly referred to as the Medicine Wheel, serves as a teaching on how to live in harmony with nature, self, community, and spirit. It symbolizes the cycle, or circle, of life, without beginning or end. While the Medicine Wheel varies from culture to culture, it universally honors the core belief that all things on Mother Earth are living and all things are interconnected. The four directions, as taught through Native American traditional knowledge, are deeply embedded with symbolism and can serve as a guide for transformation and healing to all that try to learn from its wisdom.

“The Four Directions” mural series was conceptualized under the guidance of Danielle Gustavson, a Pacifica based painter, who has Indigenous American heritage from Mesoamerica. She and “The Four Directions” is supported and lifted up by the art and concepts given by artists: Jeffrey Wong (North Mural), Jason Budowski (South Mural) and Robert Louthan (West Mural).

To learn more about the Medicine Wheel and the Four Directions please visit: https://www.nlm.nih.gov/nativevoices/exhibition/healing-ways/medicine-ways/medicine-wheel.html

East / Spring
unitymural_east_eagle
unitymural_east_beach

East is the direction of the rising sun, spring, children, new beginnings and that which moves us to action. I felt called to this direction, being a mother of a 2 year old, elementary art teacher, and a pregnant woman. My life is surrounded by the energy of the east. I chose the symbol and wildlife animal of the bald eagle. In many Native American tribes, the eagle and his or her feathers, are of the highest honor. The eagle is seen as a divine messenger and protector. If one is gifted an eagle feather, it is of the highest honor, and it is only gifted after the recipient has made a tremendous act of bravery and love. The importance and the significance of the bald eagle is not solitary to Native American culture but also spans to the appreciation of many in this country, because of its symbolism as a national icon to the United States of America. 

There is much to be learned and appreciated from all in the presence of such a magnificent bird. The bald eagle is presented in front of the rising sun and watches over visitors as they enter the bathrooms and pay for their parking. 

On the adjacent walls near the showers, are children playing in the shore. They are full of joy and entirely in the moment. They remind us to not forget and to nourish your inner child through play and living in the moment. 

The wall next to that one, presents two parents: one pregnant mother holding her child tenderly, and a proud father holding his daughter up on his shoulders. Both parents love their children endlessly, and their children reciprocate that love. The father painted here, is George Floyd, a figure who needs no introduction and a reminder of 2020. The girl upon his shoulders, is his 6 year old daughter, Gianna Floyd. It is a reminder of their humanity and our collective humanity. It is also a reminder of what moves us to action: protecting those we love. All parents and children are presented in a similar and equal way, to suggest that we are all equal and all deserving of love, respect, and protection. 

— Danielle Gustavson

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is SOUTH.pngSouth / Summer
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About 5 years ago I started teaching art to 5th – 8th graders and found that I was able to inspire and push them to be better artists and creatives, but nothing close to what they gave to me. Teaching this age range of children to young adults has liberated me creatively, so it is fitting that I find myself on this south wall. Under the summer sun children play and explore, laugh and learn. The wishing tree or tree of life anchors in a connection to nature and harmony with the earth. The child becomes a young adult and begins to see the world bigger than themselves and they search for where they belong. Some stand up and use bravery and their heart (of the wolf guardian) and begin to use their enthusiasm and passion to change the world around them to be a better place.  All the while, the trick is to stay young at heart and open to life’s possibilities.  From left to right the young activist portraits are Zanagee Artis, Greta Thunburg, Malala Yousefzai and Autumn Pelteir.
— Jason Budowski 

West / Fall
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‘Shed to grow’ 

A father embraces his child, illuminated by halo of traditional Native American textile design and basket weaving. Beside him, a sun sets to the west. The ocean is calm. Native sage grows beside a birch forest with Autumn colored foliage and falling leaves. The scene transitions into factory pollution and symbolic struggle represented by Sisyphus pushing a rock up the hill; as mechanical gears turn to depict capitalist production. 

Referencing the Native American medicine wheel, sacred snake runs throughout the piece shedding it’s cracked skin of the old world, and bursting forth in rainbow hues as it leads us into a lush landscape, a fathers love, and an opportunity for new growth. Snake’s reflected shadow onto the sand dune creates a path for us to move forward. 

— Robert Louthan

North / Winter
unity mural north

“Ancestors, make us your tool to bridge the past with the present.
Ancestral spirit, guide us through this life journey, to the future you have planned for us. Ancestral beings, connect us with this living universe, for we can do our part to keep this world whole.”
This mural depicts a disabled grandmother and her granddaughter marveling at the bioluminescence at Linda Mar Beach under full moon. It is a natural phenomenon of live sea creatures that emit biochemical energy of light from their bodies. The ancestral Ohlone spirits from the past, as impression images of a grandfather, a grandchild and a grandmother are on Pedro Point, where they once resided. In the nightly skies is the Big Bear constellation, as a spiritual being, guards the land every night from above into the future. This mural pays homage to all our ancestors, elderlies and grandparenthood, from whom knowledge, wisdom and love are passed down to the younger generation.
— Jeffrey Wong