Take Care From the Uplands to the Sea  

Konawaena High School, Kealakekua

The Island that feeds and nurtures its' inhabitants is the theme for the 2010 mural. The mural is 20' x 8', painted on five panels. 
The mural depicts the fruits of the ocean and land , and the animals and people who depend on her contniuing gifts.
The mural was completed in February 2011, and to be displayed permanently on S building, facing Konawaena school road. 
Over fifty students helped paint the mural, and
I want to especially thank Daniel Stover for her ideas and talent.

Mahalo to Stan Cantor and his construction crew for installing the mural.

Ansel Adams Mural Project

I was asked to paint a mural with middle school students in South Central Los Angeles. The mural was to be painted on portable wood panels in an outdoor shopping mall. USC was sponsoring the mural, and required the following; that the students be involved in the painting process and that the mural reflect the local community.  I resolved the problem by using photographs taken by Ansel Adams as a backdrop and painting the students into the scenery. Utilizing photographs from Ansel Adams established an American West setting, while having the students pose and paint themselves into the picture, successfully fulfilled the requirements of the mural project. The Ansel Adams photographs used were selected from his mural project series, and were painted in a Paynes Gray value scheme. The mural project was a triptych, depicting scenes from New Mexico, Bishops Pass in California, and the Mojave Desert. Not only were the students proud of their accomplishment, the result of using appropriated art was a success visually.
The Ansel Adams project can be used with any local artist’s work. Choose a painter, photographer, or sculptor whose artwork reflects the local community or environment. Architecture, social events and landscapes of the local region would all work. Georgia O’Keefe would be great for the South West Area, Ansel Adams is great for the Western Coast; Thomas Cole for North East Coast; Albert Bierstadt for the West, but not exclusive to that area. Not only will the students learn about a new artist and their techniques, but also they will become more aware of their local history and geography through the process of being involved in the project. Other American artists whose artwork would be engaging, both visually and intellectually are; Thomas Benton, Charles Burchfield, Moses Soyer, Jacob Lawrence and Grant Wood.
After the artist has been chosen, photograph the students as though they were in the painting or photograph. Show the students the picture they will be posing in, directing them to respond to the environment. The students will come alive, inventing entertaining scenarios. Students who are uncomfortable with their art skills will feel like important contributors by posing as models for the mural project. 
What I enjoyed most was observing contemporary students’ response to art that is not of their generation. Beepers, portable phones, backpacks and designer shoes are a reflection of a contemporary student, and having them in a setting by Ansel Adams provides an interesting contrast. The students not only learn about a particular artist but also learn how appropriated art can be successfully utilized.

Staying the Course

To create an inspirational public art piece on the campus of Kealakehe High School in Kailua Kona. It is the hope of this projec to open dialogue with students about navigating successfully through the myriad of choices young adults will face during their high school experience while enforcing community values.

The Project:
Family, community and self will be the focus of the ceramic mural. Each student will make a honu and bird from clay which will be glazed and adhered permanently to an outside wall on the campus of Kealakehe High School. The ceramic bird and honu will be made from a template and the students will be asked to create a design on the honu that symbolizes and reflects the following concepts: the importance of family, their relation to community and their personal hopes and dreams. The bird template will focus on what the student can contruibute to the world, such as understanding, forgiveness and truth. The honu and bird templates will be assembled like a M.C. Escher tesselation, again reinforcing the idea of working together to create a harmonious and productive community while strengthing their own individuality.
The Honu is the symbol not only of longevity, but it is the ultimate navigator, that returns
to the sands of their birth. The project will open dialogue for the youth about how they
will make choices during their high school years. The honu they create will help them
focus and navigate their own personal journey. The public art piece will be a reminder to the student and other students on campus on how to stay the course through their high school career and beyond.
The Bird in flight will remind students to share and release their hopes and dreams for a strong community. The students were instructed to sculpt and paint messages of inspiration to share their with family, friends and community.The students and youth leadership chose inspirational words like peace, aloha, music, magic, pono and pride.

Sponsors and Participants: Family Support Services of West Hawaii is sponsoring the youth mural, 
and students from Kealakehe Middle and High School are helping to make the ceramic pieces.

Special message to the students who participated in the project: Mahalo for all your time and creativity you gave to this special public mural. I hope you have enjoyed being a part of this project, as I have enjoyed watching the thoughtful art pieces you have made. My next visit will be to assemble tha ceramic project, and I look forward to having you all help me put the pieces together.


After brainstorming about a design for a mural that would depict the ideas of unity and fellowship,
we decided to use the ocean as a theme to bridge the two sister islands of Hawaii and Okinawa.
The students were informed about Okinawa becoming our sister island in 1990,
and discussed  the similarities of the two islands. Like Okinawa, Hawaii has its own language, music and 
customs that are separate and unique from the mainland. Furthermore, both islands are dependent on the ocean for a source of food,  recreation and inspiration. Okinawa and Hawaii both have beautiful coral reefs that visitors around the 
world visit every year.  Both island not only depend on the ocean for their livelihood,
but have deep respect for the Pacific ocean.
      The center of the mural  was inspired by the print The Great of Wave designed by Hokusai, surrounded by the abundance of sea life it supports. Whales, dolphins, coral fish, turtles, sharks, octopus and seals can 
both be found off the shores around Okinawa and Hawaii.  The circular design of the mural emphasizes
 the connection both islands have to the Pacific Ocean and to each other. The islands of Okinawa and Hawaii will be depicted in the shells of the sea turtles, again emphasizes the island culture both areas share.
The petroglyph of the Hawaiian paddler and the word for wave in Kanji is also depicted in the upper
left hand corner of the mural.  It is our hope that the mural will  not only celebrate our ties to our sister island Okinawa, but be.enjoyed by students, visItors, and faculty for many years. This project was completed in December 2006.Type your paragraph here.

Michelle Obregon