WAIMEA — Blue is not only the color of Waimea High School. It was also the predominant color of the “Not Even Once” mural that was unveiled Thursday morning at the home of the Menehune.
The mural is the 11th installation of the Hawaii Meth Project’s “Not Even Once Mural Project,” which started in 2014.
“Blue is also the color of the ocean,” said Ken Nishimura, another of the project leaders. “The ocean is my passion and the message is to spread community awareness about keeping the ocean clean and helping to restore the ocean.”
Arthur Brun, a project sponsor, said everyone is affected by methamphetamine use.
“The mural is lovely,” Brun said. “We’re all affected by meth use in one way or another. The words ‘Not Even Once’ is the key to this artwork. They really stand out.”
Waimea High School Principal Mahina Anguay said she liked having the waa, or Hawaiian outrigger canoe, in the corner of the mural.
“The message presented by the mural applies not only to drugs, but of choices,” Anguay said. “I’m glad they incorporated the waa. It symbolizes what the students do in class by building for their own voyage once they leave the school, and they will be ready. This mural is not just appropriate for the school, it’s for the community.”
Anguay was a teacher-adviser to Trysen Kaneshige when he embarked on an endeavor to create a larger-than-life mural incorporating motivational messages and urban art techniques as a senior project at Kauai High School.
Little did he know that this effort would be the start of a statewide campaign to share the Hawaii Meth Project’s prevention message with thousands of students, states a release from the Hawaii Meth Project.
“When I started the ‘Believe in Dreams’ senior project, I never dreamed I would be here doing this after graduating two years ago,” Kaneshige said. “I am taking online classes at my art school so I could be here with the mural. I’ve been involved in creating seven of the 11 Hawaii Meth Project murals, traveling and touring around the state and speaking before thousands of students.”
Kaneshige said he incorporated Kauai elements, including the Polihale mountains, the sunset, and the waa into the Waimea mural.
Craig Kaneshige, Trysen’s father, said he is proud of his son’s accomplishments.
“He’s accomplished a lot,” Craig said. “When he first started, I was worried about him refining his skill — he had a hard time drawing fish. Today, he can draw all kinds of fish. He’s met a lot of people, including Ken Nishimura and Aranzazu Ascunce. He got to tour some of the other islands and speak before other students. He’s gotten a lot better at speaking, and all of this has been a real great experience. We supported him on this journey, and what he has learned, no one can take that away from him.”