Lefty mural in lava-ravaged Hawaiian town depicts volcanic eruptions as our friends
How is this for nature-worship, diversity, and greenie sensibility run amok?
A new mural, opened on the side of a school in volcano-ravaged Pahoa, Hawaii, depicts the volcano as — are you ready? — our friend.
Here's a screenshot of a shareable Instagram post of the mural:
The local Hawaiian press, Hawaii News Now, had a small news item around the state-financed mural's opening in its May 17 issue, depicting a generic-looking Venice Beach–style wallscape. But a letter to the editor in the Hawaii Tribune Herald by Kapoho resident Sylvia Wan tells us this isn't going over well with locals who lost their homes, neighborhoods, and entire communities to the massive volcanic eruption last year. Seriously, heart-shaped lava? We're talking about a natural disaster, destructive, terrifying, total. She writes:
I can only imagine how the residents of Leilani Estates feel to have to drive by this mural every day on the way home.
I am a Kapoho resident. I lost my home on June 4, 2018, as did many of my neighbors. The month leading up to our evacuation was a nightmare. Our nights where filled with the ominous red sky. I could see it outside of my bedroom window every night. It looked like Hell had cracked open.
The mural brought back all of those memories. The way the sky looked. The way the air smelled. The sounds of the lava crackling and exploding in the distance. The persistent shaking of the ground. But worse, the sounds of the birds at night. The sounds of tension and not knowing.
Even after we evacuated, I could still see the red sky at night. Ominous and threatening.
I pay attention to this story because my sister's home there just barely survived the eruption, a mere two streets from the big fissure that turned much of eastern Hawaii into a steaming, blackened wasteland. Her house barely made it through, for now, bearing significant damage from the heat (which turned all of the lush green vegetation brown, damaged the root, and covered the place with threads of molten glass, known as Pele's hair). A relative just returned from Pahoa yesterday and said the scope of destruction, one year on, remained breathtaking, while in the town, the streets were still cracked, and the steam was still coming out.
Yup, the mural is kind of inappropriate.
The reasoning in this lava depicted as a sweet little heart is pretty much political correctness. The claim is that native Hawaiian culture views volcanoes, in a sort of fatalistic way, as positive (yes, long term, they are), so that makes volcano something kind of cuddly, with nice bright colors. But I'm not sure if a chi-chi-looking heart is the right way to depict that sentiment. Fear and awe are involved in the native religious practice, not some cutesy heart (which, by the way, is a Western symbol). The mural, in fact, is strikingly generic in style (you can see a lot of this kind of stuff in Venice Beach and Santa Monica) and not an apparent expression of the native Hawaiian culture at all. For my money, these t-shirt designs from a Hawaiian company, depicting Kilauea, do a better job. And the Honolulu-based artist himself says on his Facebook page that the volcano depicts Mauna Kea, a different volcano, either because he didn't know the name of the one that erupted or because he knew that it was a touchy topic. In any case, it doesn't matter because the depiction is symbolic. And Honolulu is a long way from eastern Hawaii.
The concept for this piece is based on ideas from 200+ art students at PHIS, who were asked to describe what 'aloha, kōkua, ahupua'a and resilience' means to them since the 2018 eruptions, and how they see these concepts represented visually.
The triangle composition represents strength, as well as Mauna Kea which dominates our Big Island landscape. Within the triangle, two 'ōhi'a lehua grow out of shallow, rocky soil — a true image of resilience. The 'water heart' roots reference kalo, the lifeline of Kanaka Maoli [indigenous Hawaiian people]. The many animals and plants affected by the eruptions are represented near the bottom, mauka to makai, where the students assisted in painting throughout the week.
Really, 200 art students at a school that classifies itself as rural with 45 parking spaces, in a significantly volcano-ravaged area where a whole lot of them have had to move elsewhere? Color me skeptical that this preposterous design is entirely on those 200 kids if they can actually be found.
And the many animals and plants "affected" by the eruption aren't exactly there anymore for the most part; they can be found as charred bones if anything of them still exists. Strange way of changing the subject around the effect of a volcanic eruption.
The implication is absurd, too. If volcanoes are our friend, shall we now depict the terror attack at World Trade Center in the form of heart-shaped building rubble, to depict resilience, too? Should the wildfires that ravaged Paradise, California now be depicted in the form of a fire-heart? Do we create wind hearts for Puerto Rico to commemorate Hurricane Maria? Can we cook up some water hearts for the Midwestern floods or some tornado hearts for the tornado-hit towns? Tornadoes make easy hearts...and the appallingness is obvious.
What we have here is a failure to connect, and a pretty obnoxious lefty mural absurdly idealizing disaster as something it's not. Wan notes that maybe the tree alone would work, and she's on point. What's obvious here is that global warming, nature-worship, diversity obsession, and political correctness have created a strange mural for a disaster-ravaged neighborhood. Sorry, lefties: Volcanoes are not our friends.