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By: Rebecca Remillard
In a lush agricultural zone—green living things in every direction—pass through a gate onto the Common Ground campus and vibrant colors of striking beauty, seemingly out of nowhere, appear on a building. It is as though an urban contemporary art space has been transported into a jungle. The mural, unveiled on October 2, is the work of the Kauaʻi-based, collaborative artist team KASA (KApache1 and SAmve7). 

Kaplan Bunce, or Kapache1, self-describes as a father of three daughters, surfer, carpenter, artist and lover. He is a Native American artist who first began experimenting with visual representations of his prayers and ideas about sacredness and positivity as a carpenter saving scrap wood to create native figures and picture frames. His work has evolved into various other mediums but his themes continue to revolve around prayer and living life in a good way and is part of Pow!Wow!Worldwide.

The collaborative mural for Common Ground is a continuation of traditional artwork for him, a “reckoning mechanism for generational trauma” and “our truth and home.” 

While Kaplan’s work is generally symmetrical, this mural is whimsical with layered patterns. He believes that it is the result of the duo’s two distinct styles convening. Samuel Schryver (Samve7) is described by Kaplan as the coolest guy in the room, no matter where you are. The Los Angeles-born artist built the foundations of his visual style in underground graffiti culture during his teenage years. With his graffiti days long gone, Sam still creates art with a similar process, utilizing non-traditional approaches. 

He is the earth to Kaplan’s air. During the course of the mural’s creation, Kaplan affirms that Sam kept him grounded and that he found a lot of joy in being coaxed to loosen up his usual designs of symmetry. “He has a super good eye. I can always rely on his opinion,” says Kaplan. “We’re developing a language together.” The final product is a representation of modern Hawaiʻi, the melding of many cultures, coexisting and collaborating to form a more perfect union.

The mural extends across multiple walls and surfaces on the old warehouse of the former guava plantation which is now the Common Ground campus. While the duo flexed their own styles plenty, the mural remained focused on the overarching goals of CG and its commitment to supporting arts and culture. Kaplan expresses that art in Hawaiʻi is so important because the various cultures that have found a home here all have their own art practices—it is a universal human language. Visual art consistently succeeds in breaking down boundaries and connecting humans, which is just what this mural’s unified vision does. 

Common Ground knows that art and culture are imperative mainstays to the improved future we continue to pursue. Just as CG persists with further developing our islands’ food resistance and striving to grow an economically viable agroforest, we recognize that art and culture is an equally important component to a thriving community. The mightiness behind Kaplan and Sam’s mural is an endless loop: it was inspired by the collective of creative energy just as it will continue to fuel the community’s creative energy. 
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