‘Ka Ha’ comes to life

  • Dennis Fujimoto/The Garden Island

    Artist Kalln Mier offers guidance to Waimea Canyon Middle School student Haweo Akeo who glosses over Ka Ha O Waimea, Thursday in the school’s Innovation Space.

  • Dennis Fujimoto/The Garden Island

    A visitor to the Waimea Canyon Middle School, Thursday studies ‘Ka Ha O Waimea’ that is masked off for glossing in the school’s Innovation Space.

  • Dennis Fujimoto/The Garden Island

    Artist Kalln Mier, instructors Kileen Gilroy and Paige Kemerer and students in the 20 Percent class recount the ‘Ka Ha O Waimea’ journey in Innovation Space at the Waimea Canyon Middle School.

  • Dennis Fujimoto/The Garden Island

    Waimea Canyon Middle School student Ka‘i Makua shows where one of the signatures is melded into Ka Ha O Waimea mural.

  • Dennis Fujimoto/The Garden Island

    Artist Kalln Mier watches as Waimea Canyon Middle School student Judsen Pacheco-Rivera and teachers Paige Kemerer and Kileen Gilroy add their mana‘o to Ka Ha O Waimea, Thursday during the glossing of the mural in the Innovation Space.

WAIMEA — There are two of them. Where are they?

Ka‘i Makua, a student at the Waimea Canyon Middle School, gave one of the clues as he hovered over the clump of kalo forming the central part of the mural gracing one of the walls in the newly-formed Innovation Space at the Westside school.

“You can’t look at it straight on,” said Haweo Akeo, another student. “You have to look for it at an angle or you can’t see it because of the reflection.”

Indeed, if the mural was looked at from an oblique angle, there it was — Ka’i’s name, using one of the kalo’s highlight colors, popped up on one of the leaves’ edges.

“I had to do this,” Makua said. “I had to define and explain all the Hawaiian elements because I knew about them.”

Akeo joined Makua as his eyes and fingers drifted over the mural, labeled “Ka Ha O Waimea,” settling near the edge where his name glowed indiscreetly in the shadows.

The Waimea Canyon Middle School students — 16 total ranging from sixth through eighth grades — under the supervision of instructors Kileen Gilroy, Paige Kemerer, and tattoo artist Kalln Mier of Kultural Tattoo in Hanapepe — applied the finishing steps to the mural that depicts the life of Waimea through its depiction of the ahupua‘a.

The group applied glossing as one of the final steps, the process being completed after masking tape marking the outer reaches of the mural was peeled away in preparation for the Student Exhibition 2019 that will take place Wednesday from 9:30 to 11:15 a.m. at the school’s library.

The exhibition is open to the public.

“This ahupua‘a is a break down of Waimea,” said Jusden Pacheco-Rivera, another WCMS student. “The message is to take kuleana to heart. We don’t want the message to get lost, and we want people to always remember that we are one, and one can do a lot.”

Gilroy said the mural was triggered after Waimea Canyon Middle School became the recipient of a Department of Education grant promoting, implementing, and strengthening innovation in Hawaii’s public schools through a pilot program.

“This mural is the class in action and is one way we give back to the community,” Kilroy said.

The crew toyed with the ideas from the start of the semester, pulling together “making do with what we had” elements leading to the final days of the mural’s creation.

“We had the different elements,” Gilroy said. “We needed to find a way to connect everything.”

Mier was the connector the class had been seeking. He visited the school and worked with students to bring the ideas to life on the wall of the Innovation Space.

“This is just part of the learning process,” Mier said. “It’s like when the elders look at you and trust you to carry on the traditions (secrets) by teaching you what they know. This is all part of giving back to the school, and the community. Kuleana.”

Mareta Egan is another WCMS student who worked on bringing the ideas to life.

“‘Ka Ha is the breath,” Egan said. “The breath of Waimea. This represents the breath and I felt very calm while I worked on the kalo. It was like I was in the moment.”

The students, teachers, and Mier will be on hand when they greet people to the completed mural, and the Student Exhibition 2019.

“This is one of the best classes I’ve had,” Pacheco-Rivera said. “When I go to Waimea High School, I want to get a head start and maybe find a job to get started. I’m not a fan of GED. Someone took 13 years to get his diploma. I’m going to get a diploma.”

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