Tyler Kia, 17, has a whale of a artistic tale.
The Lahainaluna High School senior gathered inspiration from the surrounding seas and swam with it: Kia created a mixed media mural at his school that pays tribute to whales and the history they have in Lahaina, an artwork that will honor those ties for decades to come.
Starting on Jan. 10, the artist spent 43 hours over five days to complete the mosaic tile mural, made of ceramic, tile, glass, mirror - and if you look close enough, new Hawaii state quarters. The mural is 44 square feet and is located between the doors of the school's ceramics classroom.
Tyler Kia’s mosaic tile mural at Lahainaluna High School
Kia's long hours paid off - and the finished product surprised the young artist.
"I didn't know I could do something like this; it makes me think, 'Whoa, what else can I do?' " he said. "Hopefully it will take me somewhere. It was a lot of fun to do it."
His hard work got the attention of Lahainaluna ceramic art teacher and Grammy-award winning slack key artist George Kahumoku Jr.
"It is a monumental achievement for not only our school and community, but also for him," said Kahumoku, who has taught Kia for two years. "It is a great reflection of what's possible in our society. It gives us hope like Sammy Davis Jr. and Barack Obamawith the"Yes we can" do anything attitude. I really believe like Barack, that if we have the willingness and desire to put forth the effort and hard work, we canmeet all of life's challenges. Being creative andour involvement in arts will help get us there."
Kia's artwork is also his senior project; senior projects help students focus on careers and are required for each pupil to graduate from Lahainaluna. Kia said he will go on to study art at a community college after graduation.
"My hope is that he will be a great artist and contributor to our creative arts community, and that someone will see this article and commission him to do more murals so he can perpetuate and stay involved with art," Kahumoku said.
* Kehaulani Cerizo can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org