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ʻĀina Aloha

A Mural Speaks

He ʻOiaʻiʻo kākou… a truth for us

Āina Aloha, Beloved land loving all
How can we take the next steps in our journey towards wellness,
reconciling with the past, never forgetting, yet moving forward, learning,
practicing our work of understanding history to be able to forgive— 

ʻĀina Aloha, the earth-our mother, loves us unconditionally. She is our constant example of always giving, always offering abundance and beauty. We yearn for these things. Truths and knowing our history keep us inspired to do the hard work of healing ourselves, and then reaching out to others—envisioning a future that will be better for all.  

Healing, as a process, is unique to each person. It takes time— and the will to want to commit to truth, to making positive change. We cycle through stages, often repeating until a person is ready and able to move on. 6 artists were invited into a process of sharing Hawaiʻi’s story. They were tasked with painting away pain.  

Al Lagunero, Meleanna Meyer, Kahi Ching, Harinani Orme, Carl Pao, and Solomon Enos were tasked with envisioning other realities—facing historical trauma head-on, and then imagining what our moʻolelo (stories) really could offer as visual “medicine” to our beloved Lāhui (Nation). 

What revealed itself through this process was surprising… The pain, although easily painted over initially, resisted being emotionally covered up at all. Some of the artists petitioned to paint the other side of the canvas because they were not finished dealing with the pain that was erased by the stroke of a brush. 

What would, revisiting that pain again, uncovering truths behind the horror, theft, death, and disease that peoples have faced throughout the world actually accomplish in this context of mural making? Confronting issues of conquest, imperialism, and other egregious acts head-on; and no longer painted over, or buried, forced different kinds of conversations to happen. No one was done with the work of naming, or dealing with, reconciling, or fully understanding the root causes of the generational pain, hurt and loss.  

Confronting our own pains and sorrows—authentically, beginning real, tough conversations, walking towards difficult truths and history, with honesty—together has proven to be transformational. The work of all people is to deal directly with each of our histories, each of our stories, to then work towards other possibly more productive outcomes—speaking to each other differently. 

The red side of the mural (Nā ʻeha, the sorrows…) was the second full painting created to address this new reality and desire to continue working through the historical and cultural trauma here in Hawaiʻi. It allowed viewers to do just what we did together. Spending time with this side of the mural— exploring what emotions and memories came forth began a kind of process of healing…  

Slowing, unfolding, our Queen Liliʻuokalani indeed suffered, as her kingdom was taken, her government illegally overthrown, lands taken, and her people bereft— left with nothing in 1893. An illegal annexation followed in 1898, dealing additional blows to an already impossible reality. We Hawaiians and our allies continue the struggle to regain our nation to this day. 

As life-long students ourselves, we creatives make things to help others better understand what we’re all thinking and feeling. We are here for you to ask questions, to provide support and to offer encouragement in a safe space. Additional and ongoing conversations about Hawaiʻi’s history and how we might work more to heal the hurt and trauma that were inflicted on Natives of these islands, and all Indigenous the world over, whose stories are horrifically similar.  

May this important visual medicine offer all who interact with this work, the opportunity to continue along on our own paths towards understanding, wellness, and health. Let us welcome in spirit, ask the tough questions, and seek answers together.  

Creating the Mural