At an art event late October, I was asked to help the Kohala middle-school with a mural project. Lauren Canton, has a class there called “Peer Mediators”, and one of the class projects is to create a mural for the south facing wall of the school, visible from the road. I was delighted when Lauren asked me to help with this project as I have been wanting to do another collaborative mural project, particularly with kids. We began meeting in November to discuss their design, and how they wanted to create this project. The mural project team is made up of six students, including the concept creator, design winner, and other second and third place winners for their mural design contest that they held last year. I’m very encouraged to see such initiative and focus on community amongst young adults. I feel happy for this community that we have a new generation coming up of young artists and visionaries alike.
The design is a Hawaiian phrase, “Aloha Kekahi i kekahi”, which has been translated as “love one another”. The original pencil and pen design was in black-and-white so we discussed color schemes, and all of us created different examples. The students asked me to piece together their ideas into one congruent color image. The result was the following.
Next we had to figure out how to create a mural on six different plywood boards that were available to us. The biggest challenge for me was how to figure out the projection process for the image onto the boards, since we were literally just projecting one piece of the puzzle onto each one, and needing it to all aligned perfectly. Needless to say there was a lot of measuring and double checking on dimensions and lines. I did end up having to fix a few things out of alignment between the boards, but ultimately, when we brought them all out from under the school, onto the lawn and lined them up, it was pretty close. Or second challenge was having to paint under the school which is a very challenging space to move about. It’s very dusty and that created part of the challenge with dust being blown onto wet paint at times. There are also some support beams which hang pretty low, and in the cramped space we bumped her heads a few times. All part of the learning with an artistic process.
Once we had brought all the boards out to the lawn and placed them in alignment our next big challenge was the weather. There are a few scheduled painting sessions in which we had to forfeit several hours of work due to rain. Because of the consistency of this problem, we decided to move the boards under the school again with the aid of several very kind and able young man from across the school. I am very impressed with their ability to problem solve and recognize the task at hand.
All in all this endeavor has felt so supported, on many fronts, and this is also a great encouragement to me, seeing how the students are being coached, supported, and inspired by so many caring adults around them. All the teachers and staff have been very kind and helpful, sometimes jumping in to help with the painting process and watching students when I needed to take breaks. Living in a community where our young people, their gifts and vision are valued and given a place, makes me feel very appreciative indeed. I have traveled to many places where this is not so and have witnessed the oppression oppression of the youth in its extreme.
How beautiful that they chose the theme of loving kindness and that this will be on the wall of their school for all to see and appreciate, hopefully into the next generations. We have yet to mount the final boards and finish a few remaining details, but are close to completion. I’m very excited to have gifted this time and energy to such a worthy offering. I hope anyone who is able will drive through Kapa’au, in North Kohala, and take a look at this beautiful art that has been created. It takes so many different perspectives and gifts to create anything of collective value.
“ A prince orders a great tent to be made. One craftsman winds the ropes. Another sharpens pins. Another sows panels. How varied their activities, how united their intentions, and have a single the task.” -RUMI
I’m very happy for my piece in the co-creative process.