A mural painted in just a few hours was a community-building event like no other
Pacific University is deeply rooted in Hawaiian culture. With an estimated 25 percent of the student body traveling from the Hawaiian islands to attend school here. And, in spite of the distance between the islands and the inland campus, the university and students alike keep the Hawaiian culture present and immediate.
On October 5, a group called “Kupu A’e Molokai” came to Forest Grove to do just that. Originating from the island of Molokai, the group works as a Hawaiian clothing brand company. With a fashion show, mural painting, and hula dancing, a regular Thursday night turned into so much more.
Kalae Tangonan, a staff member from Kupu A’e Molokai knew Pacific was a place where their art needed to be shared. “We were doing a fashion show for our clothing brand and inquired around looking for Hawaiian natives that lived locally in Oregon. That led us to Pacific. The Hawaiian club on campus wanted us to incorporate our fashion into giving back to our Hawaiian culture” Tangonan explained.
On Thursday afternoon, after the fashion wear presented on the UC patio wrapped up, a canvas was unfurled and put onto the brick wall—and immediately artists went to work. By Thursday night, the mural, entitled “A Call to Hina,” was finished. “Hina is our goddess of Molokai II, and she is calling out and just connecting to the people here in Portland,” said Tangonan.
At first, it was just the members of the group Kupu A’e Molokai working on the mural. But soon others joined. “I didn’t expect anybody to really show up because at the beginning, no one was really around,” said Tangonan. “Then as the day went on, we had around 30 students show up.” With so many students wanting to join, Tongonan had them use their hand prints as the background of the mural. “The handprints in the mural represent something we call Manamana Lima,” Tangonan passionately explained. “This represents your fingers and then it connects to your hand which is transferring up with your energy. We call it mana or spirit.”
What was just a normal day on campus turned into an event that represented so much for the community. Students from all over contributed to the mural. It did not matter if you were artistically inclined or could barely place your hand onto the canvas in the perfect manner; all were welcome to join in and share in what turned out to be a one-of-a-kind art piece. — Avari Schumacher