The Art of Healing

  • photo courtesy of Trysen Kaneshige

    Trysen Kaneshige sits next to spray paint cans that were ordered to make the ‘believe in your dreams’ mural.

  • photo courtesy of Trysen Kaneshige

    “Believe in your Dreams” was the mural that sent Trysen Kaneshige on a path of healing after concussions have led to traumatic brain injury.

  • Jessica Else/The Garden Island

    Franci Davila and Trysen Kaneshige stop for a photo with one of Kaneshige’s original art pieces.

Trysen Kaneshige’s fingerprints are all over Kauai.

He’s also known as TKay2. You can catch the Kauai multi-media artist’s murals at school campuses and at private residences, see commissioned work on Volcom clothing and see his hand in branding for various companies.

You’ll know his art by his calling card — an uplifting message with a hip-hop twist. It’s art done with bright colors, stunning scenery and a patent street art feel.

Most recently, he created the “Breathe Aloha” mural at Kapaa High with mentor Ken Nishimura; a mural to encourage youth to turn away from e-cigarettes and make healthy life choices.

Now, he’s setting his sights on mental health with an upcoming show in May, and is using his own story to spread a simple message: healing is a process and nobody is truly alone.

During his senior year at Kauai High in 2013, Kaneshige got a concussion while playing soccer during practice with the school team. He was in his prime as an athlete, and he said the knock to the head resulted in traumatic brain injury that changed his life and his thought process.

“I couldn’t play soccer and as a result I had depression,” Kaneshige said. “I’ve hit my head a lot. Then, this year I’ve had multiple concussions. It (also has) made me depressed and I was suicidal from being disabled.”

Just in this last year, he’s sustained a concussion from a head collision with rafters while doing a project and from hitting his head hard enough on a car door.

Throughout the past five years, it’s been art that has kept Kaneshige moving forward and it all started with a 2013 mural he made at Kapaa High. It’s called “Believe in your Dreams”.

Creating the piece with hundreds of cans of spray paint was a healing experience for Kaneshige, and the message itself started working its magic on him while he was doing the mural. It sparked his long-dormant inspiration.

“The act of making art is healing,” Kaneshige said. “‘Believe in your Dreams’ got me into doing mental health (as an awareness theme for murals).”

Now, Kaneshige is commissioned by Kauai companies, as well as off-island entities to do live art projects as well as murals and other art and design. He’s all about connecting and uplifting Kauai.

So, he’s partnered with Kauai Mental Health Awareness to spearhead an artistic takeover of Ha Coffee in Lihue on May 11. It’s an event that boasts street art and photography, poetry and live music, open mic and food.

Five local artists will be showing off their work at the show, as well as Kaneshige.

“We’ve been working on this for two or three months now, getting together all local vendors and bringing together the community,” said Franci Davila, one of the KMHA organizers.

Working with organizations like the Prevent Suicide Kauai Taskforce, the May 11 art show will also have materials and resources for mental health services. It’ll be a chance to dive into culture and get questions answered at the same time.

“Trysen’s story is centered around traumatic brain injury, but one in five of us are diagnosed (with mental health disorders) or have symptoms,” Davila said. “We want this to be accessible to everyone. We want to get the whole community together.”

Kaneshige says it was one part art and one part community that saved his life — he was one of the lucky ones with a strong support system, and that made all the difference.

Davila says there’s still room for people to jump on board as vendors and to contributed poems. The open mic will available that night for people to do readings.

“It’ll be a great event with some hip hop swag to it,” she said.

Info: Davila, 631-1154

  1. Charlie Chimknee April 3, 2019 7:20 am Reply

    Aloha TKay2,

    Gee, breathing all those spray paint fumes doesn’t sound too healthy for your brain either. The toxic chemicals in the fumes are breathable chemicals that can enter the blood stream just like smoking and vaping allows and then onto and into your brain.

    In some places selling spray paint to minors is prohibited.

    Other toxic chemicals are in our food (read the labels) and enter the blood stream, as well as toxic medicines, many of those chemicals can get into your brain.

    Many of these multi source chemicals can pass from our blood stream and make it across the blood brain barrier into the brain. Some food chemicals are intentionally used as they force foods to blend and mix together, but at the same time their other actions are ignored such as penetrating the blood brain barrier.

    Traumatic brain injury, such as concussions can also occur from a sports injury as you well know, or a fall, or a motor vehicle whiplash injury.

    We hope you are at least using a double canister air filter respirator to keep the paint chemicals from entering and poison-injuring your brain.



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