The news site of Santa Barbara City College.

The Channels

The news site of Santa Barbara City College.

The Channels

The news site of Santa Barbara City College.

The Channels

New campus center mural features Asian and Desi American heritage

Claire Geriak
The mural celebrating Asian American and Pacific Islander culture gleams in the sunshine outside of City College’s Campus Center in Santa Barbara, Calif. The mural was a collaboration between the AAPI+ community on City College campus, and the Twin Walls Mural Company based in California’s Bay Area.

A new carefully thought out mural dedicated to Pacific Islander, Asian American and Desi American Heritage now has a home at the Campus Center Patio at City College.

The Asian Student Union (ASU), Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI), and additional faculty worked with Twins Walls Mural Company in order to make the project come alive. 

Marina Perez-Wong and Elaine Chu are the head of the mural company, and they collaborated with their well known friends Priya Handa and Cece Carpio to design, create and paint this project on the week of Sept. 9.

From left, Priya Handa and Cece Carpio perch atop scaffolding on Sept. 11 in Santa Barbara, Calif. The pair help form the Twin Walls Mural Company, based out of the Bay Area in California. (Claire Geriak)

It all started back in the fall of 2022, when Roxanne Byrne, the director of student equity and engagement programs, was working with others on the Umoja mural representing Black students. This sparked the idea of wanting more murals on campus representing many cultures. Kindred Murillo, who was the interim superintendent president at the time, gave her full support for this pitch. 

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Byrne contacted Perez-Wong and Chu directly for this design; they had been in conversation since April. During this time there were many zoom meetings held where faculty and staff would converse on what they are looking for in terms of the theme and imagery for the mural. They started the designing process back in July. 

“It was a beautiful experience and all is expanding,” Handa said as she was explaining what the mural meant to her.

Aminah Hill carefully contributes to the mural curated by the Twin Walls Mural Company on Sept. 12 at City College in Santa Barbara, Calif. The sociology major, along with other student and faculty volunteers, were able to pitch in in the community painting event behind the cafeteria overlooking the ocean. (Claire Geriak)

The AAPI staff and faculty group looked at many different artists before choosing the Twins Walls Mural Company, yet landed on this business because of the impression that was left when looking at their work. Another factor is due to the company being run by AAPI artists. 

“This was the one that spoke to us the most,” Byrne said.

Byrne reached out to the students who identify as AAPI and asked through a Google document what they would like represented from their cultures within the mural. Some that were included were a tiger which is located on the far left side of the mural sitting above one of the windows. This specific animal is symbolic in many Asian cultures. There is also a young girl painted on the bottom right corner of the wall wearing a dress that includes patches with different designs from many cultures including Thailand, Indonesia and more.

“We are representing a lot of different cultures here,” Byrne said. “If you go through the mural there are so many elements that are representing different Asian ethnicities and cultures and backgrounds.”

The President of the Asian Student Union, Bryan Wong, was in contact with Byrne throughout the mural process. This specific club was one of many that gave input on what they would like to see in the painting. Wong suggested that he would like to see more representation of Southeast Asia.

City College students follow the guidance of the Twin Walls Mural Company to contribute to the mural outside of the cafeteria on east campus on Sept. 12 in Santa Barbara, Calif. The muralists marked spaces on the wall that needed to be colored in by the volunteers. (Claire Geriak)


“The Asian student union is a fairly new club, we don’t see many Asian students participating in the student life on campus,” Wong said. “This has made me feel seen and represented and I hope people will go look at the mural and try to know more about the meaning behind it.” 

Correction: Sept. 27

A previous version of this story cited Marina Perez-Wong incorrectly, originally citing her as Marina Wong. The Channels had also incorrectly cited Cece Carpio originally as Priya Handa. Lastly, The Channels originally spelled Elane incorectlly, and has been updated to Elaine. The Channels regrets this error. 

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