March 23, 2017

Hawaiʻi Convention Center Unveils First Permanent Native Hawaiian Mural

Kumu (teachers) and Haumana (students) gather to celebrate the completion of the Hawai`i Kakou Community Mural project at the Hawai`i Convention Center.

On October 19, 2011 “Hawai‘i Loa Ku Like Kākou (Hawai‘i Kākou)” the Hawai‘i Convention Center’s first permanent native Hawaiian indigenous artwork was unveiled. The mural was created by the Hawai‘i Kākou Community Mural Project headed by Lead Artist Meleanna Meyer. She was joined by fellow kumu (teacher) artists Solomon Enos, Kahi Ching, Al Lagunero and Harinani Orme together with six alakai (leaders) and featured a team of 17 talented haumana (students), ages 12 to 19, that came from various public, private, charter and Hawaiian immersion schools.

Kumu Meleanna reveals that the idea for a community mural project started a few years back she and her fellow kumu and alakai mentored young artists in painting a mural for the Sheraton Waikīkī. They were also involved in creating various mural projects such as the “Kuakeahu” Mural at Camp Mokule’ia, the “Ho’ohuli” Mural at the Bishop Museum and the 250-ft long mural near Kalihi Waena Elementary along Kalihi Stream.

Located at the Level 1 Lobby of the Hawai‘i Convention Center, the 10’ x 64’ mural was made possible through funding from the Office of Hawaiian Affairs. Painting began on October 3rdand during a short opening ceremony guests were invited to put their fingerprints on to the mural to mark the starting point of this project. It symbolizes that each person is indigenous to a certain culture and that the imprints we leave behind are something we all have in common.

Joe Davis at the Hawaii Kakou mural

Hawai`i Convention Center/SMG General Manager Joe Davis puts his fingerprint onto the Hawai`i Kakou Mural during the opening ceremony held on October 3, 2011.

“New Old Wisdom”

Apart from mentoring young artists, the Hawai‘i Kākou Community Mural Project also serves as a venue to share the indigenous voice through art. As a visual response to the gathering of world economies in Hawai‘i, this mural serves as a reminder that lessons from Hawaii’s indigenous past are alive and relevant in helping to influence our future. It is a Hawaiian perspective on the economy rooted in indigenous values.

Kumu Harinani Orme works with haumana (students) as they help paint the Hawai`i Kakou Community Mural.

The theme of practicing “New Old Wisdoms” is a prominent message embedded into Hawai‘i Kākou. Symbols and icons representing various indigenous economies throughout Asia and the Pacific are included in the design. Among them, the ‘auamo (carrying stick) is symbolic of everyone’s shared responsibility of keeping the land and our resources in balance. Images of Po’e (people) working and being “pushed, pulled, woven and gathered by the land” reveals our direct relationship with the environment. Throughout the mural, the haumana added small dots and “fish” forms that move through the piece, representing “the currents, winds, veins, and arteries that weave elements together.”

working on the hawaii kakou mural at the hawaii convention center

Talented young artists put their mark on the Hawai`i Kakou Community Mural at the Hawai`i Convention Center.

Color choice is also indicative of the artwork’s message. Shades of amber, ocher, yellow and blue suggest “colors of hope and the urgency of fire.” Crimson is also visible and denotes the “internal bleeding” of people and the environment impacted by exploitation and imbalance.

Al Lagunero, Meleanna Meyer, Harinani Orme, and Solomon Enos put on the final touches of the Hawai`i Kakou Mural

Kumu artists (from left) Al Lagunero, Meleanna Meyer, Harinani Orme, and Solomon Enos put on the final touches of the Hawai`i Kakou Mural.

True Collaboration

Throughout the seven days that the Hawai‘i Kākou Community Mural team worked, many hands have touched the artwork and inspired the design.  Sketches and drawings can be seen surrounding their work area providing guidance and inspiration as the group worked throughout the day and well into the night.

This made the mural dedication held on October 19th even more special because they were unveiling not just a great piece of indigenous artwork but a product of true collaboration.  Friends and family of the haumana, alakai and the kumu were present to witness this occasion.

Maile Meyer (center) shares a few words of thanks during the mural dedication on October 19

Maile Meyer (center), one of the principal organizers of the mural project, shares a few words of thanks during the mural dedication on October 19. There were also the five kumu who helped mentor the young artists: (from left) Al Lagunero, Meleanna Meyer, Solomon Enos, Harinani Orme, and Kahi Ching.

Maile Meyer, sister of artist Meleanna and one of the principal organizers of the mural project expressed gratitude towards everyone supporting the effort. The kumu also took the time to recognize and thank each of the alakai and haumana who participated in the mural as well as everyone who worked behind the scenes to make this community mural project possible.

The mural’s unveiling occurs just in time for the APEC Leaders Summit in November and is another way to showcase Hawai’i’s culture to the world leaders and future visitors of Hawai‘i and the Hawai‘i Convention Center. Beyond the art styles and skills involved in creating the mural, Hawai‘i Kākou is a strong medium that gives Hawaiian artists a chance to share the indigenous perspective of community economics – an economy that is based on sharing, relationships and aloha. Kumu Meleanna puts it more aptly, “Art is our visual currency. We trade in heartworks; we trade in spirit; we trade in aloha.”

Hawai`i Loa Ku Like Kakou

"Hawai`i Loa Ku Like Kakou" is located on the Lobby Level, outside Kamehameha Exhibit Hall 1, at the Hawai`i Convention Center.

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About Natalie Shiinoki

Natalie Shiinoki is the International Sales Coordinator for the Hawaii Convention Center. She is a web enthusiast, social media explorer and admirer of all things creative and innovative.

Comments

  1. aloha to the Hawai’i convention editorial team. Mahalo for this wonderful write up on this incredible project. Your team on the ground was nothing short of extraordinary. the mural speaks for all of us, our work is kakou wale no! The best when done together. It’s so important to reach across cultures and space and move together. This mural is a manifestation of that energy and intention. nui mahalo, maile

    • Joe Davis says:

      Mahalo Maile for your kind comments. The mural has life, a wondrous spirit and expression of what’s right and delivers a powerful vision for the future. We are grateful you selected the Hawai`i Convention Center as the place to deliver this message to the world.

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