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Untold perspectives above the Northern Mariana Islands’ surface

By: Riane Capalad

The Sea-Through passion project uncovers the truth of each artist's point of view and shares perspectives on breaking barriers in an underrepresented community.

In a symbolic moment of my life—I unquestionably packed my bags and seized a 24-hour unforgiving flight back home to reflect, re-evaluate, and recover. And what better way to express those emotions than to create NOT an emotional rocket science experiment but to establish a passion project in collaboration with some of my closest friends in the artistic realm. In fact, thousands of artists like us in the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI) are talented and eager to make a living and a name for ourselves. But, it can feel daunting to see what awaits beyond the reef. 


 

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Photography by Darian Salas

I wanted this experience to be meaningful and memorable for all of us by purposely choosing a place we all have come to love and made memories with through the years of our friendship.

 

Bird Island is one of the most well-know sites in the CNMI. And to get these paintlike photos, we started at 7 am to hike down the shore carrying knapsacks and duffle bags of equipment and props.

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Photography by Darian Salas

Unpredictable rain showers also accompanied our mini photo op, causing slight delays as we huddled inside a small cave on the right side of the beach, waiting for the rain to subside. Finally, at the unstableness weather of 90 degrees—we pushed through!

But there's more to that; we also shared peals of laughter, unsolicited jokes, silly comments, and some bread from Rota that, thankfully, Tony brought, which was the only food we had (and we were there for almost 6 hours).

With limited resources—yet to be resolved—the backbone of our individual aspirations quashes all overbearing barriers.

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Photography by Tahj Salas

Comprised of 14 islands, the CNMI, a U.S territory, continues to be an isolated beaut in the Marianas archipelago: surrounded by pristine water, rich in culture and history that is imprinted in its land and people.

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Photography by Julia Espino

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Photography by Riane Capalad

Although the world may find it difficult to notice the teeny dot on the Pacific, it is with love and pride that we continue to move forward and march through those doors. Through our lenses, we hope to shed light on our successes and share perspectives of the struggles we consistently face as minor creatives. 
 
For us, home is where the ocean is visible, understood, and felt. We are connected through our surroundings, the aesthetics, majestic views, opined information, ideologies, collaboration, and the coming together of people as one family.
 
In the Marianas, we leave no one behind: we swim with the tides, share lemais (breadfruit) and mangoes with our neighbors, make meaningful conversations, and welcome new people to our shores. Enriched and blessed by the people that came before us, we are all made to love one another, accept all walks of life, and understand our differences. We live in a land filled with diversification, mystique, and natural beauty that allures anyone who dares set foot on paradise, on our soil and the world's best-kept secret out here in the Pacific - Protected and nurtured by the taotaomona (those who came before us). We share a love for sports. We bond through food that screams culture. We dream big, just like everyone else.

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Photography by Tony Atalig

With love and pride, Sea-Through is a passion project and digital art exhibit that walks you through the lenses of an artist here in the Northern Mariana Islands. It captures moments and tides of creativity, the ebbs and flows of expression, and the gush of memories created through love and friendship. It is a collection of visual concepts and perspectives by photographers and creative minds. In our language, the truth is that photography means more than just a hobby of pointing a camera at something. It's a story. It's our story.

Here I have gathered four local photographers, also called local artists, and my familia (family) by heart to bring their narrative to the table. Dive into our world to discover who and where we are on the map! Enjoy the exhibit!

Creative Producer: Riane Capalad

Photos by: Julia Espino, Tony Atalig, Darian Salas, Ria Camacho, Riane Capalad

Videos by: Tahj Salas, Julia Espino

Text: Riane Capalad

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THE MARIANAS-BASED CREATIVES

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