Jasper Wong and Pow Wow Hawaii

May 19, 2017

Jasper Wong, a Kalani High School alumni, talked to students about his organization called POW WOW HAWAII- a collection of contemporary artists who paint murals, make music and create art installations. Their central event takes place during a week in February, where they celebrate creating art in many forms. They hold concerts, classes and galleries during this week to unify people over the arts.

You’ve probably seen the murals done by Pow Wow in Kakaako. There, giant paintings of different styles and subjects grace the walls, essentially revitalizing the area. These murals are done by artists not only from Hawaii, but from all over the world.

“There’s less crime and vandalism in the area because of our murals,” Wong said. “We even work with some graffiti artists to get their perspectives.”

Wong talked about having passion for art- something he had growing up. He encouraged Kalani students to keep pursuing what they enjoy. “Find a job you love to do. I have friends who do work just because they have to- if you find a job you’re passionate about, it doesn’t have to be that way.”

Wong also talked about his journey and career as an artist- he attended an art college in the San Francisco Bay Area and came back to Hawaii to found Pow Wow. “When I was here [at Kalani], my counselors couldn’t really help me with my art portfolio. If you guys need any help with that, I could look some portfolio’s over and give guidance.”

Wong works with local businesses and artists- he also works with Native Hawaiians to give artists from the US mainland and other parts of the world a true cultural perspective. “I didn’t want their perspective of Hawaii to just be Waikiki. I want these artists to understand the Hawaiian culture and history.” Artists were taken to Papahana Kuaola in Kaneohe and experienced working in a taro patch firsthand.

It wasn’t always easy for Wong, who often felt discouraged when founding Pow Wow. It was difficult for him to find the money to fund his projects, and finding other artists who would want to be a part of his organization. “The big part for me was going out and actively asking for money from sponsors- reaching out to people for support.”

Wong really emphasized going after your dreams in order to find a career that will make you happy. He talked to students, asking people what they were passionate about and encouraging them to pursue these things.

All in all, the Pow Wow Hawaii presentation enlightened students and gave them a new perspective on life after high school. Even if you’re not interested in art, Jasper Wong conveyed that passion should always come before anything else- it is the key to true happiness.

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