Raising Environmental Awareness from the Deep Sea to the Arctic
A picture says a thousand words…more so, if they’re on the edge of a waterfall, underwater, or among the broken ice pieces in the Arctic. These sums up the fascinating art pieces that Hula and Kapu have done and been doing.
Brothers, born and raised in Hawaii, Hula and Kapu carry great love for art and nature. “Growing up in the island, you have this sense of responsibility to the land. The land takes care of you, you take care of the land. It’s something that we definitely want to connect with art,” Kapu shared.
Wrong Calculation, Right Mentality
However, when they moved to New York, there was a sense of culture shock between two different worlds. “Moving to New York, it’s completely opposite of what we’re used to in Hawaii. If you grow up in big cities, there tends to be disconnection to nature. In Hawaii, there’s such a respect for the power of nature and what can happen if it’s misused or neglected. We’re fortunate to see the great parts of nature,” Hula recalled.
The road to success didn’t come easy. There was fair share of struggles in achieving their art aspirations, working from various restaurant jobs to bartending. They shared the same sentiment, “Looking back, it’s good that we were naïve back then. Had we known beforehand how hard it was going to be, we wouldn’t have left Hawaii. This delusion that we’re always just right around the corner with our dreams… it’s the wrong calculation, but the right mentality.”
Soft beauty of Mother Nature
The ball started rolling when they began working on mural projects in the city. Eventually, it grew into a huge platform. Throughout the various art masterpieces, there’s undeniable emphasis on the beauty of nature and caring for the environment. “We brought up a lot of our Hawaii upbringing and values into our works. We’re expanded into different types of environment. We never really expected it, but it feels organic,” Hula mentioned.
There’s notable number of women as the subject of their art. “I believe that mother nature gives a haunting message, it has a softer beauty to it,” Hula explained. With regards to one of the most memorable artworks they’ve done, Hula pointed out the underwater art.
From underwater to the Arctic
“We grew up in the ocean, so it’s natural for me to combine nature and art. One thing has gone viral and I realized the messages of our work is beyond our story, there’s depth to it.”
In finding inspiration, Hula and Kapu have traveled to many places. Even if that meant reaching the Arctic. One of their recent artworks that made waves is A’o Ana, which featured a woman on a piece of ice that broke off a glacier. “A’o Ana means warning. This reflects the urgency that I felt when I was in that moment. Hearing the constant breakage of glaciers, it was an eye opener. We have many warning signs that are still not translated enough for people to take actions. So, I wanted to create a piece that’ll do that,” Hula emphasized.
The fragility of the future generation
One of the main goals is tackling climate change. “The more I learn, the more I realize how delicate the whole system is. It’s a surreal experience,”said both. Their Paper Boats mural that shows two children on a boat was quite a reflection of that goal. Hula underlined, “We want to convey how fragile the next generation is. We’re sort of leading our future generation to the world that’s unknown. They don’t have enough time to solve this issue. They’ll be the ones dealing with the mess.”
Art — a universal language
Hula and Kapu have gained a lot of support across different age groups, cultures, and background. They believe, “Art is a universal language. As artists, the balance between having depth and being easy to translate quickly to get an emotional reaction from people is important.”
Given that climate change is one of the most pressing issues in today’s time, the need to spread awareness on many different yet specific areas of the environment is important. “We try to find narrower topics that we can shed light on like coral bleaching. We try to raise awareness, so such issues will become a common knowledge,” Hula underscored.
There are so many environmental issues to tackle and many different angles people can work on that ultimately add up to major milestones in confronting climate change. The brothers have become optimistic from their years of traveling and meeting people from all walks of life. “We used to be pessimistic, we had this mentality that there’s so much more to be done, yet so little are helping. But the more we traveled, the more we saw the good energy, honest intentions and global push to save what can still be saved at this point in our planet. It’s inspiring to know there’s more effort and thoughts being put into this initiative.”
The never ending finish line…
Just as there are numerous issues to solve, there are still many ideas and inspirations to explore with art. “We’re always on the search for things that speak to us the most, the important messages. There’s never going to be a finish line. That’s one of the main appeals to art. I like that I could still paint in my 80’s or 90’s,” Hula underlined.
It’s quite a big leap from growing up in an island, simply aspiring to make art…now, Hula and Kapu are still in the process of getting used to the widespread support for their work. The brothers are humbled by the whole experience. “Being an artist and showing it at a gallery, you get this immediate connection. We’re fortunate to grow this platform and expand to different areas. The wave of support every time we release something new is humbling.”
When asked about one of the most remarkable things they learned from connecting with people — “The more we get to know people, the more we connect. In this big world, there are so many different cultures, but we’re all ultimately the same on a human level.”
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