The beating heart of Diamond Ridge High now hangs on permanent display at the school in the form of a colorful mural inspired by the rock art of southern Utah.
Traditionally, the heart—a muscular depiction of which is the focus of the student-made mural—is the seat of emotion. For some of the Diamond Ridge artists, it symbolizes peace and prosperity. To others, it signifies human connection. “The heart is the centerpiece. …To me, it represents what it feels like to be loved and to be accepted,” explained student artist Josie Croft at a May 14 unveiling of the painting.
Diamond Ridge, Canyons District’s alternative high school, is a place where many teens discover just that: A sense of belonging, purpose and pride. The school is the sixth in Canyons to create a Sacred Images mural as a monument to indigenous peoples, capping a longstanding relationship with the Center for Documentary Expression and Art and its “Sacred Images” artist-in-residence program.
Each year, the program kicks off with an immersive field trip to Nine Mile Canyons, a petroglyph site near Price, UT. Students are then paired with Lakota/Plains Apache storyteller Dovie Thomason and an artist-in-residence—in this case, with Alicia Maria Siu Bernal whose primary role was to help students unleash their creativity and guide them through the mural-making process.
“It’s been amazing,” said Diamond Ridge’s River Troyer. “When you’re working on a big project like this, all together with as many students as this, it makes it difficult to get on the same page, because people have different ideas and backgrounds.” But to accomplish anything of significance takes the innovation and hard work of many hands, Troyer added, which also is depicted in the mural.
Diamond Ridge’s Isabel Reynolds agrees. “It was really hard,” she says, “But as a team we created something beautiful. Without this school, I would never have experienced anything like this.”
The Sacred Images mural is now at home in the entryway of Diamond Ridge, which is located at the Canyons Technical Education Center.