Everyone’s Honolulu commute is getting a bit more presidential. A new mural of President Barack Obama has popped up in the city’s urban center with a message to celebrate Hawaii and the country’s multiethnic fabric and to spread aloha across people’s differences in this era.
Hawaiian artist Kamea Hadar (pictured below) just completed and unveiled the new piece entitled “Hapa”: a grand portrait of the President, who was born and raised in Honolulu. The mural is located at the corner of Ward Avenue and Kapiolani in Kakaako, just three miles from Punahou School, where Obama graduated from high school.
In Hawaiian, hapa means “part” or “portion” and is used in the Islands to refer to anyone with a mixed ethnic background. Hadar explains, “The concept of hapa is something beautiful, and President Obama is definitely a symbol of someone who not only is hapa, but represents the philosophy and the beauty of not only being of mixed race, but promoting racial equality.”
The mural was commissioned by Galiher DeRobertis Waxman, a Hawaii law firm. Founder and senior trial partner Gary Galiher calls the mural on the firm’s building “a powerful piece, something that in Hawaii identifies the beauty of bringing the best of different ethnic groups together … I think it’s very appropriate … and going to be a very positive landmark.”
The cursive sentences adorning the piece are from a 2008 speech Obama gave on racial equality that he delivered in Philadelphia. An excerpt: ”We may have different stories but we have common hopes, we may not look the same and we might not have come from the same place, but we all want to move in the same direction - towards a better future for our children and grandchildren."
Take a look behind “Hapa” and how it came about here: