We Are the Ocean

by Amanda Phingbodhipakkiya

Emeryville, USA – September 2022


Finding This Mural

Emery High School, 47th Street, Emeryville, CA, USA

Google Map

Story Behind This Mural

This work was created in partnership with FINDINGS, an initiative that highlights the research of badass women and non-binary researchers in STEM through art.

Artist Statement

We Are the Ocean honors the secret history hidden at the bottom of the Pacific. Sara S. Tenamoeata Kahanamoku, a historical marine ecologist based at UC Berkeley, studies tiny Foraminifera found in layers of the sea floor in order to reconstruct colonialism's devastating impacts on the ocean and ecosystems like the SF Bay. From the introduction of cows, to the Gold Rush and incidents of toxic runoff, these moments have led to extinction events and harm to the availability and quality of food in Bay Area communities. As a Native Hawaiian and Tahitian, Kahanamoku’s culture teaches us that water has memory, and the ocean keeps score. In the mural, the Hawaiian māhū deity Kanaloa, protector of the ocean, is depicted with a child, both with eyes on the past, walking backwards into the future within a flourishing Bay. Yet hints of colonialism, toxicity and pollution still lurk within view. We Are the Ocean is a reminder that the Bay's past holds the answers to guide its future and we must ensure that indigenous communities, who have long been stewards of the ocean, have a chance to shape our ocean policies, solutions and perspectives.


Ocean Justice