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DLNR News Release-Kapa’a High Students Beautify Vandalized Forest Bridge, May 14, 2019

Posted on May 14, 2019 in Latest Department News

Murals Expected to be Completed Today

(Wailua Loop Road, Kaua‘i) –  Until a week ago, the Keahua Bridge, better known as the Wailua Loop Road Bridge, had its concrete dividers and walk-way covered in graffiti. The bridge is a popular stop for sightseers, hikers, swimmers and stream-waders.  The DLNR Division of Forestry and Wildlife (DOFAW) staff on Kaua‘i contacted the art program at Kapa‘a High School to propose a way to combat the vandalism and beautify the bridge structures, which are only a few years old.

DOFAW Kaua‘i Branch Manager Sheri S. Mann commented, “We are always happy when we can work with students who want to contribute to protecting and beautifying the public lands around them. This bridge is basically a doorway to the Wailua forest lands and having student art represent that is very special. We hope it will lead to less graffiti and more community involvement.”

For the past four days, as many as 20 students at a time opened more than 30 cans of paint, mixed it, and began creating large murals on the newly washed concrete bridge structures. Their teacher, Vanessa Owens said, “We started planning and creating sketches in class, last fall.  We consulted with Hawaiian cultural practitioners to ensure that our murals were respectful and accurate portrayals of both our host culture and of the natural world around this area.”  The final design features a pair of hula dancers who tell, through the art, the story of the importance of water and of the ahupua‘a (land division) of this area. “We wanted to be culturally pono,” Owens added.

Owens said the bridge murals have been very well received by the community and by people visiting the area.  She says based on her experience, murals tend to dissuade continued tagging by grafitti artists as they typically won’t cover up someone else’s artwork. Once the murals are complete it will be sealed with a coating which should make it easy to wash off any grafitti in the future. Art students, in the future, expect to help maintain and touch-up the murals as needed.

In addition to the obvious overall benefit of beautifying the bridge, Owens believes the students involved in the project won’t be inclined to tag public places themselves and may help discourage other teens from doing so.

Yesterday, freshman art student Natalia Orne was touching up ocean waves, that stretch the entire length of one concrete wall.  She said, “I’m really excited about these murals because it gave me an opportunity to paint, which I love, and to give back to the community.”

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(All images/video courtesy: DLNR)


HD video – Kapa‘a Students Bring Beauty to Forest Bridge web feature:


Video – Keahua Bridge (pre-mural painting):


HD video – Keahua Bridge mural painting/SOTS (shot sheet attached):


Photographs – Keahua Bridge (pre and post mural photos):


Media Contact:

Dan Dennison

Senior Communications Manager

(808) 587-0396

[email protected]