Shonna Alexander’s love of drawing and expressing herself through art began with her fascination of the stories artists were able to convey through their work. So when the full-time college student and part-time employee was offered the opportunity, she jumped at the chance to tell a bit of her family history by conceptualizing and creating a special mural for the Fresno Flats Nathan Sweet Museum. She’s been working on the mural less than 10 hours, and hopes to have it completed by the end of October.
“I’m painting different scenes that convey traditional Chukchansi stories,” said Alexander, who is both Chukchansi and Miwok. “One scene shows how the Native people dressed and cooked acorns, another shows where the children are placed in schools and wearing uniforms. The mural will then progress to a scene with a young girl and grandmother, wearing today’s clothing, working on a basket together. I want people to get a sense of those who lived here before, how they cared for the land, and how traditions and ceremonies continue to this day.”
The funds for this project, which Alexander calls a homage to her family as well as to people of the area, come from a Chukchansi grant.
“I am very excited to paint my first mural for Fresno Flats Historic Village & Park,” Alexander said. “At first I was a little nervous because of the size of this project, but I decided to push myself outside my comfort zone. It’s important to me to give people who look at this mural a glimpse into the history of the indigenous peoples of this land ... to show how the Native people have persevered through hardships and turmoil.”
When not mural painting, Alexander works at Zanders Coffee in Coarsegold, and is studying two dimensional art at Clovis Community College. A Coarsegold resident, she is a 2011 Yosemite High graduate, and has taught many Chukchansi classes. She is also one among others dedicated to preserving the Native language by teaching tribal youth.
“Ms. Alexander looks forward to being able to share her culture,” said Brenda Negley, Heritage Day Parade coordinator. “Consider stopping by Fresno Flats on Sept. 16 to see her work and to visit with her.”