My Point of Heu
She weighs in at eight tons, sits 62-feet long and has literally sailed hundreds of thousands of miles in the pacific ocean…Hokulea has officially embarked upon the first portion of her journey around the world. This after sitting in port off of
Sand Island at the Marine Education Training Center for several months getting prepped for her long journey over the next three and a half years. The voyaging wa’a along with her sister canoe Hikianalia will sail to 85 ports, 26 countries
and cover 50,000 miles of open ocean to emulate what our Polynesian/Hawaiian ancestors once did…way finding without instruments.
With only the stars to guide them Hokulea and her crew attribute much of their inspiration to the man who has been deemed the greatest navigator in human history…Pius “Mau” Piailug, or “Papa Mau” as many would call him. The Micronesian navigator was originally from the tiny island of Satawal and was designated and chosen at the age of 1 as a navigator, a seer of constellations and stars.
Hokulea’s first navigator in 1976, Mau was a mentor to our current master navigators, and also to the next generation who aspire to be like him. Mau died July 12, 2010, leaving behind a rich legacy and inspiration for many who aim to take his teachings and perpetuate the voyaging culture. Mau’s legacy continues to live on in the youth who have adopted his way finding techniques. And as the Hokulea and Hikianalia begin their worldwide journey over the next couple of years a part of the heart and soul of the canoe and its crew will remain on land, perpetuated in a beautiful and elaborate collaboration mural in Kakaako.
Artist Kamea Hadar, along with the hands of several others including fellow artist and entrepreneur Ola Rapozo and students from the Pow Wow School of Art and 808 Urban teens, created a large mural of “Papa Mau” inspired by the
world wide voyage. [Located at the corner of Auahi and Cooke Street]
Today Hokulea’s voyage connects modern day technology with the ancient methods and teachings of discovery. Something similar to discovering the world again through a new pair of eyes. I was inspired to write this blog because of all the excitement and anticipation of this internationally known journey and I also wanted to know more about the motivation behind the Mau mural and the artist who created it. Humor me a bit but the next series of questions and answers with gifted Hawaii artist Kamea Hadar are likened to and also inspired by “Six Questions of Socrates: A Modern-Day Journey of Discovery through World Philosophy”.
Here are my “Six Questions of Kamea Hadar” –
1. What prompted you to create this mural, and why this particular location?
This project started when Archie Kalepa, Bruce Blankenfeld and I flew to Palm Springs to speak about Hawaii and its culture. During one conversation with Bruce I joked that if he ever wanted me to paint on Hokulea's sails or on the canoe itself to let me know and he replied that "Actually, you know what? I do have something that you can paint." He explained
that Hikianalia had a hale, or cabin, that they wanted to paint something on to keep the glare down as well as the undersides of new hatch covers that protect the hulls of Hokulea. Along with Keola Rapoza of Fitted Hawaii, we wrapped Hikianalia's Hale with a water pattern that Keola designed. For the hatch covers I sat with Bruce and collected stories of Hokulea's travels around the Pacific to places like Tahiti, Raro Tonga, the Pacific Northwest, New Zealand and Japan. We designed a simple image representing each place and along with the kids of POW! WOW! School of Art/808 Urban painted them on the hatch covers. The kids really went to town on embellishing the designs and the project was a huge success. The hatch cover that I painted represented Micronesia and was an image of Papa Mau. When I posted photos of the piece many people were ecstatic to see him, and those who did not know him were extremely curious. The response was so huge that I knew that I had to paint a mural of him.
2. How is this mural different from the others you have painted/collaborated on?
I have never painted a mural of a historical figure before. Usually when I paint it’s a much more personal thing, but in this
case the painting and process came from many more people than just myself. I spoke to members of Mau's family to get permission to paint the mural, and sat with members of the original Hokulea crew who sailed with him to learn about
what he was like as a person and to look through old photos of theirs. I also talked a lot with the younger navigators as well as the kids of POW! WOW! School of Art/808 Urban to see how the next generation viewed him. Overall, the experience was a much longer and more collaborative effort not only in the actual painting of the wall (which includes the background by the kids of POW! WOW! School of Art/808 Urban and Keola's water pattern) but in the conceptual development of the piece. Even though I painted his face, it took a lot of people to really capture who he was on that wall.
3. Take me through the process toward choosing this image and where the portrait comes from?
When looking for reference photos I met with Naalehu Anthony one night who had a lot of amazing pictures dating back to the original voyage. He had an amazing photo of Papa Mau staring towards the horizon with an intense look. The photo immediately spoke to me but I still wanted to make sure that it truly captured who he was as a person. I sat with Uncle Billy
Richards later that night and while he told me of stories about Mau, he mentioned that one of his favorite photos of Mau was one that reminded him of a quote: "To be a navigator, you have to be fierce." When I heard that I showed him the photo that I had chosen and he smiled and said, "That's the one, that's the look that he had that you knew that he would get you home."
4. When you're in the process of painting what goes through your mind?
The hardest and most tedious parts of the creative process are the things that go on before any paint gets put up. Things like concept and composition, permission for use of imagery, permission from land-owners to paint their building, collaboration of concept with the community and/or other artists who are painting, hiring videographers and photographers,
pushing press, setting up time-lapse cameras, setting up lights for painting at night, organizing possible sponsors, setting up scaffolds, renting lifts, buying paints, brushes, buckets and other supplies, clearing parked cars and covering/masking other surfaces to avoid overspray/paint damage, etc. The actual act of painting for me is the frosting on the top of the cake. I put in my earphones, tune the world out and just enjoy my music.
5. What did you learn while working with the students and aspiring teen artists?
I learned that although things like Hokulea and Papa Mau are so famous, most people and especially young teens have only a vague idea of what and who they are and sometimes not even a clue. My hope with this mural was to bring Papa Mau to the foreground and to be more than a recognizable name or image, but to educate about who he really was and details about his story and contributions. I also learned that things like prom and bus schedules greatly affect painting when you're a teen, something that I seemed to have forgotten.
6. What's coming up for you next?
May 24-June 3 I am flying to Taiwan for POW! WOW! Taiwan, then in early June Im installing two large paintings in the newly renovated hall of the State Department of Health. At the end of June Im getting married, and then have a gallery show in San Francisco followed by POW! WOW! Israel in September. Full speed ahead.
Hokulea and Hikianalia were slated to depart from Hilo, Hawaii and head to Tahiti, their first international port, this weekend but bad weather conditions have delayed the launch until next week. The ceremonies and traditional blessings will take place on Saurday, May 24, 2014 as scheduled. Kamea meanwhile is headed to Taiwain this weekend as well for the launch of Pow Wow Taiwan – bon voyage to all!
To track Hokulea’s voyage - http://www.hokulea.com/track-the-voyage/
Keep up with Kamea Hadar here - http://kameahadar.com/