Youth Development • Arts Education • Cultural Preservation • Community Building
Check out completed Mele Murals projects.
Our work honors the last commands of our King David Kalakaua, “Look to the keiki, teach them, groom them, show them wonder, and inspire them.” Mele Murals affords a platform to teach young people to become storytellers, painters, and community leaders.
Based On A Proven Model
Mele Murals builds upon the tradition of many public art, youth development, art education, and community development programs that have been successful around the U.S. and internationally, including The Estria Foundation’s international Water Writes series focusing on critical water issues in 10 cities around the globe, and the Love Letter series in Philadelphia. However, an Art in Public project of this scope, with these goals and this number of partners, across islands separated by water, and incorporating ancient Hawaiian protocols is unprecedented. Click below to learn more about our process.
The Mele Murals workshop process builds lasting relationships by bringing together people whose paths might otherwise never have crossed and empowers voices that may not have been heard before. The project joins diverse community members and the finished mural celebrates their collective creative force. Neighborhood murals transform the visual landscape and remain a living part of the community long after the project is completed. The content of Mele Murals is a visual depiction of community input and dialogue from the workshops. Mele Murals participants become stewards of the artwork and what it represents. Youth participants develop skills in the artform through a safe opportunity for creativity and self-expression with an authentic audience, cultivating confidence as another generation of artists emerge across our island communities.
Murals and Hawaiian Music
Murals are transformative, instantly adding color, beauty, and life to public spaces. Muralism changes lives and strengthens the fabric of a community as people are enabled to explore their artistic voice and beautify their own neighborhoods. The muralism process also passes along local culture and tradition, and develops new leaders. When completed with community and historical content, murals become local monuments and a source of community pride.
Hawaiian music is honest. It celebrates connection to the land, chronicles traditions and stories, and binds Hawaii’s people together with the past and the future. During the workshops Mele Murals explores the meaning and kaona (hidden meaning) of songs and chants in the context of past and present community issues. The murals shares these stories and stimulates dialogue among generations of Hawaii residents and visitors.
Local artists will lead and mentor the Halau Paheona. Mele Murals involves youth from local programs and schools, including Hawaiian-focused charter schools. Youth are involved in every step of the mural-making process, from securing a wall to collaborating on a design, to creating the mural and celebrating its completion.
Musicians, community leaders, and cultural practitioners meet with youth and share the importance and meaning of the songs and chants. A team of artists translates concepts generated in the workshop into a mural sketch.
Connection and Sharing
The communities will be connected online to share insight and guide each other through the community-building and creative processes. As youth become more proficient in muralism, they will teach their new recruits. Mele Murals will include events honoring and featuring the work of the Mele Murals communities.
‘Oiwi TV will be filming every mural, and sharing these videos through their cable channel and website.
Acclaimed documenter, Tad Nakamura, will produce a feature length film. We will promote and share the mural-making process and stories in the murals with people around the world through film festivals and special screenings.
We are currently seeking partners to create children’s books and an adult coffee table book.