HANAPEPE — Brian Oliver watched in awe as hundreds of students from Eleele Elementary School flooded the streets of Historic Hanapepe Town for the mural dedication ceremony on Friday.
The mural consists of 648 tiles, most of which were designed and painted by the students of Eleele Elementary, but it was Oliver who spent over 10 hours placing them on the side wall of the Hawaiian Telcom building nearly two months ago.
“It’s awesome. I didn’t expect anything like this,” said Oliver, owner of Island Custom Tile and Stone.
“I knew that there was gonna be a little ceremony for it but this is amazing — 390 kids? It makes it all worth it.”
The ceramic tiles, which were provided by Banana Patch Studio, were sent to Eleele Elementary over two years ago for students to paint.
Javi Javillonar was a first-grader when he designed his tile.
Now as a fourth-grader, he can now appreciate the work he put into it.
“I like that I can see what I made a long time ago when I was younger,” Javillonar said.
Joanna Carolan, owner of Banana Patch Studio, admired the way the kids looked at the mural and posed for pictures in front of the creation.
Carolan is pleased to see her vision come to fruition, a project that took a few years to get off the ground.
“It’s so exciting. It’s really fun to just have all of this young energy,” Carolan said.
“I mean, this is our future. This is really fun to have the kids involved with this project and have them get a chance to come and get this kind of support and acknowledgment.”
While she and her studio put a lot of effort into firing the tiles and getting them ready for display, Carolan said that the dedication was about the children and their growing passion for art.
“I think (the mural) helps kids to have a sense of place,” she said. “I also think that for kids to see that there’s a lot of opportunities for creativity, so in the years to come, we’re certainly going to need a lot of creative thinkers. I hope this will inspire them in whatever direction they go.”
As Oliver stood in the back with his family, carrying his three-month-old daughter in his arms, he said he had no idea his volunteer effort for a simple weekend job would become something so special to the town.
“The art is amazing,” Oliver said. “The way everyone came out, I couldn’t ask for more.”