Mural comes to fruition
Writer: Keo Akina
Bewilderment and awe hit Leeward Community College on the morning of April 23 as students and faculty were drawn, captivated, and couldn’t help but gaze upon a 64-foot wide and 8-foot tall mural.
“Every step is the destination” stretched across the center of the canvas, while drawings of Pablo Picasso and C.S. Lewis flanked the inspiring quote.
“The inspiration of this quote came from our art professor, Alan Leitner,” said Joel Gaspar, student and lead designer for the mural. “Failure shouldn’t be seen as a negative or dead end. Failures are just steps in the progression that you want to go. Keep striving, keep pushing forward, that’s what the quote means. It’s all apart of the journey man, it’s all apart of the journey.”
Leitner, an abstract artist who has taught at Leeward for over a quarter of a century, was instrumental in the organization of the project.
“This means a lot to us faculty, it was done by our students and I am proud of them,” Leitner said. “We think about our students in the same way as our children. What makes this job so rewarding is seeing them succeed. Out of my 27 years as being a professor here at Leeward, this is one of the most significant accomplishments I was able to take part in.”
The start of the three-day mural process began just about two years ago with the idea of an expression wall by John-Patrick Whitaker, a member of the student government.
“I don’t think the majority of people, students or faculty, know how hard it is to accomplish something like this. To them it looks as if it appeared overnight,” said Whitaker, an ASUH-Leeward senator.
Eight students created the mural on the construction boards that were put up around the Learning Resource Center while it is being renovated. The production of the mural began Friday afternoon and was completed late Sunday evening, totaling 20 meticulous hours.
The challenge was taking the small original design and transferring it onto the enormous construction boards. An overhead projector was used to transfer the original 8.5x11-inch design onto the wall. The first night consisted of laying down the framework and sketching out the letters, lines, and figures in addition to tapping down the letters of the quote with painter’s tape. Saturday afternoon involved filling in the sketched outlines of Picasso and Lewis with house paint and brushes of different sizes. The use of a minimal color theme — red, black and white — was incorporated to the abstract idea followed by spontaneously swiping of the paintbrushes over the taped letters. Sunday was the touch up and finalization of the second coat of splattering and drip marks to stick to the street art theme. Finally, the tape was peeled from the letters and what was left was the big quote “Every step is the destination.”
“At the very least I’m happy to have something sharp and bright on campus,” Whitaker explained. “ Regardless of whether you like the composition, the style, the execution, or the message when you walk by the mural it’s a jolt to your eyeballs.”
Whitaker was influential in the mural’s fruition, and praised those involved in the project.
“I’m not a leader, I don’t know how to be a leader, but somehow I started the ball rolling and got eight awesome people on board,” he said. “ It never would have happened without them. It was Joel Gaspar’s design, Alan Leitner’s quote, Johnna Davis chose the figures, Mike McKeller helped plan and buy materials, Azure Ng, Ken Dahilig, Chris Ruff and Lindsey showed up and worked their butts off, adding their own unique touches.
“The real hero of the project is (art professor) Mr. (Michael) Harada. I felt so bad for hijacking his weekend but he was there for us every day. Without his experience we would have been dead in the water. I’m truly grateful to him for all the support and work he put in.”
The student’s involved hope to continue inspiring faculty and other students from not just Leeward but all the other UH campuses as well.
“This was never about us as artists, nor was it for fame or recognition, our sole intention was to inspire,” said Gaspar. “We hope this endeavor will get people excited, not just on our campus, but in others as well.”
The mural will be taken down in early May for commencement. Though there are discussions to have it resurface in the art department. But once the walls go up on the Associate of Arts in Teaching program’s new building behind the theatre, expect another student-created mural.
Mark Lane, Vice Chancellor of Administrative Services at Leeward Community College, said through e-mail, “the diligence and attention to detail provided by our students and their faculty advisors on this project would certainly lend itself to approving similar projects in the future. Our institution needs to ensure that we enrich the student learning experience by providing creative outlets such as the mural.”
Video of the mural completion process at http://www.youtube.com/leewardsg