Understanding art with Kalani Ware

Oakland graffiti artist Kalani Ware working on his abstract mural at Pow! Wow! Hawai‘i – Dutches K. Richards
Oakland graffiti artist Kalani Ware working on his abstract mural at Pow! Wow! Hawai‘i – Dutches K. Richards

Pow! Wow! Hawai’i attracts artists from around the country, and among them this year was abstract graffiti artist Kalani Ware.

The 28-year-old from Oakland, California, was not an official Pow! Wow! artist but wanted to come to the event to meet other artists, to be inspired and to paint an outdoor mural for the first time.

“I didn’t want to come out here and not do some work,” Ware said. “I want to make an impression by some of the people here and get exposure.”

This wasn’t Ware’s first time in Hawai‘i. He graduated from the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa in 2013 where he received a degree in graphic design.

During his time at Mānoa, he became intrigued by Native Hawaiian culture and took Hawaiian Studies classes.

His style of art began to reflect a combination of street graffiti, abstract and Hawaiian cultural elements, all of which are present in the mural he painted.

For Ware, who works as a graphic designer for Crystal Clear Imaging in San Francisco, abstract art is subjective, and at first glance a person may not necessarily understand it. He said that finding the meaning behind your own piece during the process of creating it is what makes art, art.

“Trying to figure it out and come up with something different is what makes art unique,” he said. “You’re constantly trying to figure it out.”

Being a non-official Pow! Wow! artist, Ware had to bring his own art supplies and find his own wall to paint. His vibrant use of color, line and shape made his work stand out.

The finished product consisted of multiple vibrant spraypainted shapes and colors that represented a mixture of natural energy, creative emotions of chaos, and beauty interacting with water.

In his mural, women in the middle are spraypainted in black and are designed to direct the viewer’s eye to the center.

Ware said that when he began his mural, he wasn’t quite sure what he was going to paint. But in the end, he was happy with the results.

Ware hopes to become an official Pow! Wow! artist, where he’ll be able to travel and create art all over the world.

“To become an artist at Pow! Wow!, to be an artist at Coachella, to be an artist at all these festivals all over the world, that’s my goal,” he said.

“I think we are all artists. But only some of us choose to embrace it.”

by Dutches K. Richards, Ka ‘Ohana Staff Reporter