Following the inspiring portrait film JAKE SHIMABUKURO: LIFE ON FOUR STRINGS, filmmaker Tadashi Nakamura strikes again with MELE MURALS, exploring the melding of ancient Hawaiian traditions with hip-hop-infused graffiti art. At the center of the film is a community art project of the same name — led by artists Estria Miyashiro and John “Prime” Hina — which focuses on youth development, arts education and cultural preservation through murals across the Hawaiian Islands.
One of their chosen mural locations is Kanu o ka ‘Āina, a public charter school in Waimea, HI, focusing on education through Hawaiian traditions. The school’s tight-knit community is skeptical about graffiti art and hesitant to accept it at first. Throughout the painting process, however, the veils of adversity are lifted as what the artists create addresses the effects of modernization and environmental change that continue to encroach on the native culture.
What begins as a project to inspire youth and community unexpectedly transforms into a self-reflective journey for Estria and Prime as they rediscover their own identities and duties as Hawaiian artists.