Mele Murals

Mele Murals is a youth development, arts education, cultural preservation, and community-building project.  Begun in late 2013, local artists, youth, and other community members spanning the eight major islands of Hawai`i are creating a series of large-scale outdoor murals focusing on Hawaiian lyrics (mele) that explore mo`olelo `aina (stories of place) and cultural and historical heritage. Initially conceived by Estria, the program has expanded with input from dozens of community members. As of summer 2014, Mele Murals is the premier program offering of The Estria Foundation.

Goals of Mele Murals
Our work honors the last commands of our King David Kalakaua, “Look to the keiki, teach them, groom them, show them wonder, and inspire them.” Mele Murals affords a platform to teach young people to become storytellers, painters, and community leaders.

The program’s goals are to:
• Create an all-islands public art project that is artistically excellent, deeply connected to the history of Hawai‘i, and a source of pride.
• Build and sustain an Art in Public movement across the island chain.
• Beautify the islands with professional works of art.
• Develop arts-interested youth into visual storytellers by educating them on local history, showing them how to connect to ancestors, and developing their artistic skills.
• Provide opportunities for youth to explore Hawaiian oral storytelling tradition, to learn how to read kaona, and to preserve Hawaiian values
• Educate about Hawaii’s cultural heritage.
• Teach public art techniques that are not taught in conventional arts classes.
• Increase cross-generation and cross-island engagement by creating new and exciting opportunities for all generations to learn and share mele and stories.
• Develop leadership, organizing, and public speaking skills.
• Enhance student creative and critical thinking skills through the mural arts process and support for arts educators and teaching artists.
• Increase social connection among youth artists by developing and supporting a network of youth mural clubs across the islands and connecting these clubs to area cultural workers.
• Use a broad set of media tools to share the stories of the mele with a broad, global audience, highlighting important artistic, cultural, and historical themes.

For more information, check out