Keauhou mural honors the region’s cultural heritage

Mele Murals Creative Director Estria Miyashiro (kneeling, right) and students Kayla Cagampang and Kawika Lawrence showcase a mural depicting the battle of Kuamo‘o. Standing are: KS West HI Support Services Manager Deeann Haberly, Mele Murals Project Coordinator Mahea Akau, KS Curriculum and Assessment Coordinator Kanakolu Noa, cultural advisor Kalani Hamm and KS Cultural Resource Specialist Mahealani Pai. (Photo courtesy of Mele Murals)

Kaui Burgess | Special to Hawaii 24/7

Ehunuikaimalino 11th grader Kawika Lawrence shares his manao behind the image of Hawaiian Chiefess Manono and her heroism during the battle of Kuamoo.

First grader Pulamawehiwa Cantiberos glides past a mural depicting the famous royal holua slide of Keauhou.

The Mele Murals youth art development program uses art education and aina-based knowledge to develop youth into community leaders.

The Estria Foundation is seeking community partners for the project, including sponsors to donate supplies and defray costs, and property owners to offer walls as canvases.

Sponsors of the Keauhou mural project include:

* Kamehameha Schools

* Donkey Mill Art Center Foundation

* Bill Healy Foundation

* Betty Kanuha Foundation

* County of Hawaii

* Ace Hardware

* Montana Cans

* Art Alternatives

* Peaberry and Galette

* \The parents and teachers of Ka Ehunuikaimalino

Local urban artists Estria Miyashiro and John “Prime” Hina recently engaged Keauhou-area cultural advisors and the students of Ke Kula o Ehunuikaimalino Hawaiian immersion public charter school in the creation of a large-scale mural at the Keauhou Shopping Center.

The seven-panel mural honors the cultural heritage of Keauhou by depicting events and landmarks associated with the region, including the battle of Kuamoo and the royal holua slide.

The two-week project, supported by Kamehameha Schools and other community collaborators, is part of the Mele Murals youth art development program created by the Estria Foundation.

The program uses art education and aina-based knowledge to develop youth into community leaders.

Miyashiro, founder of the Estria Foundation, says that there is a lesson to be learned in the creation of each mural.

“Our objective is to share with others the transformational power of public art in Hawaii that is grounded in place-based stories and living in harmony with na lani (heavens), aina (land), kai (ocean), kupuna (ancestors) and aumakua (family guardians),” Miyashiro said. “This is pono. It is balance, and that’s what we want to instill in every youth participant.”

The lessons are not lost on the young minds of the students at Ke Kula o Ehunuikaimalino, who were taught by Estria and Prime how to use meditation, prayer and knowledge of history as a process to conceptualize a story, ultimately sharing it on a canvas for all to interpret.

“The first thing we had to be mindful of was the area that we are in,” says Ehunuikaimalino 11th grader Kawika Lawrence. “We also had to be mindful of the events that took place here and the monuments that still stand here today. With that in mind, we had meditation sessions, and within those meditation sessions, we were asking our deities, our kupuna, our akua, our aumakua, whether or not the ideas we were thinking of were OK to put on these walls.”

More than 300 community members gathered recently at the KS-owned Keauhou Shopping Center to celebrate the unveiling of the collaborative art project.

Deeann Haberly, West Hawaii support services manager for Kamehameha Schools, has high hopes for the mural.

“Our prayer is that not only will the students of Ehunuikaimalino be impacted by this learning experience, but that the story on these panels – which they’ve created – depicting the history of this place, will in turn impact and educate visitors to Pauahi’s lands here at Keauhou Shopping Center,” Haberly said.

The mural is the fourth in a series of 20 murals that will span the pae aina (Hawaiian islands). The Mele Murals project hopes to find kokua from others who share a vision to educate and develop youth through practicing art and cultural preservation.

“We are seeking schools to partner with, we’re seeking property owners to give us walls, and we’re seeking sponsors to give us supplies,” Estria said. “We need a lot of help and it’s very much a community effort.”

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