Transforming lives through Art

By Sina Filifilia Sevaaetasi ,

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Estria with a  Group of volunteers from the “Turn A Life Around”

Estria with a Group of volunteers from the “Turn A Life Around”

For many, the word graffiti carries a negative connotation.

But for one Hawaiian man, he has changed the graffiti world forever as it is no longer just graffiti but a platform to  share messgaes and  pereserve the long lost history of his Hawaiian people at the same time.  

In his paint ridden shorts and calm demeanour, many would not recognize, Estria Miyashiro as an urban living legend.  

However, the name “Estria” garners great respect amongst  “graffiti artists” or writers around the world and more notably in his hometown of Hawaii. 

Estria and his team are in Samoa as part of their project called “Mele Murals” where they take their art around the world to breathe life into the community they touch.  

Yesterday, with assistance from the American Embassy, the documentary titled “Mele Murals” which features Estria and another writer John Hina (a.k.a. Prime), was shown at the Samoan Centre for Samoan Studies.  

The documentary follows Estria Miyahsiro and John Hina (a.k.a. Prime) as they visit Native Hawaiian Charter school youths and the rural community of Waimea, dealing with the ill effects of environment changes and encroaching modernization on their native culture.  

Estria Miyashiro explaining to the kids what they will be doing together.
Estria Miyashiro explaining to the kids what they will be doing together.

It takes the viewer on the extensive  journey with Estria and Prime as they use their talents to benefit their Hawaiian people and creating beautiful works of art. They share the story of their people and feature  Hawaiian Gods and Goddesses of the past and historical Hawaiian features.  

The pair use this unconventional graffiti culture to relate to millennials and young people who tend to gravitate towards edgy behaviours, such as graffiti which is illegal in some countries.

In the documentary, Prime and Estria don’t just come to a place, paint and leave. It is a methodical and spiritual journey where the two spend a great amount of time mediating on what should be placed on the wall.  

They have cultural consultants who ensure that their mural reflects the community as a whole.

In the end, the mural is a grand piece of work that meshes historical figures, with important symbolisms from the culture.  Especially since it was a community project, it becomes something that  everyone can be proud of.   

Now, Estria is working on bringing that same experience for a  group of volunteers in American Corner’s reading program titled “Turn A Life Around”.  The group of more than 20 volunteers will help Estria and his team to paint the side of the Nelson Memorial Public Library.

The public unveiling of the project will take place today.

© Samoa Observer 2016

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