A century of amazing works of art on display

For 101 years, the Foothillers have created amazing works of art at Grossmont High School (GHS) or donated them to Grossmont High School in remembrance of their years at GHS. Four unique examples are exhibited at the GHS museum.


Masako Morishita Morinaka, Class of 1936, donated a lovely Japanese floral Bunka embroidery to Grossmont in celebration of her class’s 50th anniversary. She brought Bunka embroidery to their meeting; he was later introduced to the school.

Masaki Morishita Morinak, Class of 1936, donated this Japanese Bunka embroidery in 1986. (Photo courtesy of GHS Museum)

Japanese Bunka embroidery evolved around the turn of the 20th century after the invention of rayon, which when woven would become a dental floss-like thread with a soft texture. This art form involves the use of a punch needle and is described as “thread oil painting”.

The beauty and color of this piece is striking and a testament to the hours Masako put into its creation and her lifetime of creative expression in embroidery, photography, ceramics and crafts.


Many items that we have in our archives and on display in the museum were donated by loving family members. Charlene Craig, daughter of Bill Emmons, Class of 1940, donated several items to the museum, many of which showcase Bill’s artistry, including an illustrated book report “A Tale of Two Cities” and “Evangeline”, as well as beautiful works of art. used in yearbooks and student newspapers.

Charlene Craig with her father’s 1938 artwork and yearbook. (Photo courtesy of GHS Museum)

Emmons was a naturally gifted illustrator from an early age.

Craig fondly recalls, “One of his GHS art teachers had to write to the Walt Disney Studio Art Department on my father’s behalf around his graduation in 1940 to help him achieve his goal of school to work for WDP. That summer he was officially invited by mail for a paid three-month internship at their new studio in Burbank in August 1940.”

On the shelves housing 100 years of Foothiller yearbooks is a framed drawing of the sports section title page. The yearbook featured a Scottish theme that year, which Emmons captured vividly in black and white.


A teacher’s aide in the art department for six years, David Nichols then served as a student teacher while earning his teaching license from Carol Lockwood and Jerry Lewis.

This environmental ceramic piece, made with 150 lbs. clay, was part of a class project. The class was divided into six groups of 5-6 students, each doing a play.

Iliana Rincon and Dawna Locher with part of the class ceramic project. (Photo courtesy of GHS Museum)

Today, David recalls, “The assignment was to create a 3D relief using a repeating pattern and texture. We also talked about the idea that an artist can make sense of the interior, but a good art allows the viewer to see what is relevant to them.While you may see snakes, a duck, acorns, in reality the artists may have depicted something completely different.

Students hammered the clay into large slabs, then hand-sculpted using repeating patterns. The rear face was then hollowed out to facilitate firing. After the cookie was fired, iron oxide was rubbed into the piece to enrich the brown coloration before high firing in a reducing atmosphere at cone 10.

After the final firing, each piece was attached to a plywood base, brackets were added for hanging, and the pieces were installed throughout the Grossmont campus, with this one on display in the district office.

Two of the six are known to remain today, one in the museum and one in David’s drawing room, both testimonies to Foothiller’s artistic expression.

1980 G.U.

Shortly after starting the museum, we were introduced to the mystery of “Big Gus”, which originally hung on the walls of the old PE boys’ locker room. The first mystery was his date, which was solved when we came across “him” on the cover of the 1980-81 student manual; the second mystery was the artist, which we haven’t solved yet.

Anthony Gomez, Abby Chiu, Cody White and Tomas Suarez with “Big Gus”. (Photo courtesy of GHS Museum)

Its vibrant colors and impactful design make it a powerful representation of the Foothiller spirit. We welcome information about its origins and its artist!

The Foothillers have left their mark on campus in countless ways; these elements remind us how essential art is in the high school curriculum and the many echoes it echoes through the decades.


Recently, we learned that the installation of heating and air conditioning necessary for the museum as well as the replacement of the windows required an anti-seismic modernization of the building. These improvements are not possible in the 1950 dance hall, where the museum currently stands. Our new space will be roughly the same size, but without the historical memorabilia.

Alumni who wish to visit campus as part of their class reunions are encouraged to contact us for a campus tour, which could include our smaller 1920s decade exhibits at the school office, athletic exhibits in the PE building, the first of the photos of sports teams in the new gymnasium from 1970, as well as a glimpse of the old gymnasium from 1937. Your visit could also include the district office, where we have a large exhibition at upstairs and where a walk on the 1922 parquet floor in the corridors will bring back many memories. Contact us to confirm a time and date for your class.

Opening hours: Wednesdays by appointment or from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., Saturday April 9 or Saturday April 23. For more information or to make an appointment for a visit on Wednesday, contact us at [email protected] or (619) 668-6148.

—Connie and Lynn Baer write on behalf of the Grossmont High School Museum.

Christopher S. Washington