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