Artist Kamea Hadar Celebrates Identity and President Obama with His New Mural “Hapa”

Earlier this summer, Honolulu became a little bit more presidential when a new mural of President Barack Obama came into existence. Found on a street corner in the city the 44th President of the United States was born and raised, the piece of art is the latest handiwork of local artist, Kamea Hadar.

“So the mural is a portrait of President Barack Obama,” Hadar explained via phone interview. “In the background is [an excerpt from] a speech he made in 2008 in Philadelphia.”

To Hadar, the mural is more than just a way to honor our current president as he reaches the end of his second term.

“It has to do with racial equality and that’s what the piece is about. The piece is called ‘Hapa,’ which comes from the Hawaiian word for ‘part’ or ‘partial,’ and basically it is used to refer to people of mixed race,” Hadar said. “President Obama is Hapa, I’m Hapa, a lot of people are, and it’s very much representative of the melting pot of race and culture in Hawaii and also the rest of the world.

“So anyone is part anything, not all, is referred to as Hapa. But it’s mainly like a symbol. The meaning of it is more about mixed race and not the literal translation of the word.”

Artist Kamea Hadar

Hadar, who also serves as co-director of arts network POW! WOW!, was originally approached to do the mural by the building owner, who was already a fan of his work. He wanted him to paint a mural on the side of the building, with the subject having to reflect off of the theme of being Hapa.

“So when he approached me, he said, ‘What would be a good subject?’ President Obama came up in the conversation and it kind of came together naturally,” he recalled. “It’s like a perfect fit. The building owner wanted to do a portrait that had to do with being Hapa, but he’s also a big supporter of President Obama. President Obama is an inspiration.”

The process of putting together what the overall mural would look like was a quick process for Hadar as the imagery came to him more naturally than usual.

“Usually there’s a lot of back and forth between myself and the building owner, what they wanted and what they were happy with. It was amazing,” he explained. “The mock-up of the piece and the sketch for the piece came out really, really easily and naturally, and when I showed it to the building owner, he had no comments. He was just like, ‘I love it! Let’s do it!'”

The process of getting “Hapa” painted onto the building wall came with its challenges; many of which were weather and time-related. For instance, how quickly the paint dried depended on the time of day Hadar was out painting and how high the sun was. The wind however, was the greatest nuisance, though it also helped the mural along.

“The wind was a big factor. It was a really windy area,” Hadar recalled. “So when I was trying to spray some of the background, I wanted the perfect gradient, but the wind kept catching the paint and swirling it around. And actually, it ended up adding to the piece, because when you look in the background, it has kind of this smoky, wispy feel to it and because it was so windy every day I was working, it would just spray the paint on. So it actually wounded up working to my advantage.”

Artist Kamea Hadar and his mural, “Hapa.” Photo by Andrew Tran/Instagram

Since its completion, “Hapa” has garnered a positive reception from the public, which was a relief for Hadar, as he was worried about a possible political backlash.

“Honestly, even people who aren’t supporters of Obama, they were telling me, ‘I’m not a big fan of some of his policies but I still love the mural because I think it’s a beautiful piece of art,'” said Hadar. “So it’s surprisingly positive. You know, there’s obviously going to be some criticism. In art, it’s always good to have some reaction versus none, whether good or bad.”

While he hasn’t heard anything from President Obama himself about the mural yet, he hopes that maybe one day when in town, he’ll have the chance to see it. Otherwise, Hadar is happy with the response and inspiration his mural is bringing to others.

“The point of the piece is just to inspire other people and hopefully I’ve already done that,” he stated. “I’m just happy to spread aloha is all.”

To learn more about Hadar and his other works, be sure to check out his official website and keep up to date on his latest endeavors on Facebook, as well as on Twitter and Instagram @kameahadar.


Photo Credits Jonas Maon & Andrew Tran, and via

Tim Atlas – The Green Room

Before he blew away Gwen Stefani and Pharrell on The Voice, Tim Atlas wowed the crowd as a finalist at Kollaboration San Francisco. We’re so happy that Tim was able to stop by the Kollaboration Green Room to play a few of his original songs for us! Please enjoy and let us know what you think about his music!

“Ten Goodbyes”

Hear more from Tim on his YouTube channel


Kollab ATL Chats With Julee Cerda About Smart People, “Twokens,” and Acting

Kollaboration Atlanta’s Qui Ho interviews actress Julree Cerda about her upcoming role in the play “Smart People,” premiering in Atlanta on July 12 at the True Colors Theatre Company

The quest for love, achievement and identity is universal, but what role does race play in the story of our lives? On the eve of Obama’s first election, four Harvard intellectuals find themselves entangled in a complex web of social and sexual politics. A whirlwind of crackling dialogue and tricky questions are thrown at us by the fearless and funny Lydia Diamond (Stick Fly) in this provocative and funny play
The quest for love, achievement and identity is universal, but what role does race play in the
story of our lives? On the eve of Obama’s first election, four Harvard intellectuals find
themselves entangled in a complex web of social and sexual politics. A whirlwind of
crackling dialogue and tricky questions are thrown at us by the fearless and funny Lydia
Diamond (Stick Fly) in this provocative and funny play

Julee Cerda is an American actress born in Seoul, South Korea. She was raised in New York but spent part of her childhood in her father’s home country, the Dominican Republic. Julee comes to Atlanta from New York City playing Ginny Yang, a well­ respected tenured Harvard Psychology professor, in Smart People. Her most recent theater credits include: The Bloodline of Shadrick Grace (FringeNYC) and Mad Dog Blues (Michael Chekhov Theater Company). On screen, Julee has recently appeared in House of Cards, Orange Is the NewBlack, and will be seen in Morten Tyldum’s upcoming film, Passengers.

Qui: How did the role in “Smart People” come about?

Julee: My agent asked me if I wanted to put myself on tape for the role of Ginny and having known the play and the role, I agreed to. I didn’t think anything would come of it and even went on a lengthy vacation to visit my husband’s family in England. That’s of course when I get a call saying the director wanted to meet so we ended up arranging a call over Skype.

Qui: Do you feel you face challenges in the industry due to race?

Julee: All the time. Roles for Asian Americans are few and far between and when a script calls for one, it usually requires you to play a stereotype. And while roles for Latinos are more available, I usually don’t get called in for those parts because I don’t “look” Latina enough. It’s a frustrating predicament to be in…especially if you’re an actress of mixed race. But I’m grateful playwrights like Lydia R. Diamond has created a role like Ginny who, like me, defines herself as a “twoken…proudly representing not one, but two under represented­populations”.

Qui: What’s your definition of “smart”?

Julee: Aware, insightful, thought­through. Although thanks to my husband, I’ve now adopted the British meaning which is neat and stylish as in “that outfit looks smart.”

Qui: What would you picture yourself doing if you weren’t acting?

Julee: I’d like to think I’d be doing is something creative like screenwriting or playwriting or filmmaking. But if it weren’t arts­related, I’ve always had this fantasy of being a carpenter and building houses. I don’t know why. I just like the idea of creating things by hand.

Qui: In a previous interview, you stated “Don’t let fear rule you. Dare to try. Dare to fail.” I believe in being confident leads to success. How would you suggest one getting over the fear of failure?

Julee: Take an improv class. It’s scary as hell but incredibly exhilarating! And it’s refreshing to know your peers are in the same sinking boat as you are.

Qui: The Shakespeare Tavern is a gem here in Atlanta. Any spots you’re looking forward to visiting during your Atlanta residency?

Julee: I’m actually just looking forward to getting to know the neighborhoods of Atlanta a bit more. I hear East Atlanta, Little 5 Points, Virginia Highlands, Poncey­Highlands, Edgewood are all worth checking out. And I’m also really looking forward to trying out some delicious southern comfort food so suggestions welcome!

Qui: Who is someone in your life who can always make you laugh?

Julee: My 18 month ­old daughter, Emmett. She’s full of surprises and always up to something cheeky. For instance, she’ll come over to me to give me a hug and I’ll think “aw, how sweet!” and then I’ll suddenly realize my iPhone is missing from my pocket and she’s running away giggling.

Qui: I am a huge fan of House of Cards having grown up in D.C. area. What’s it like on set of House of Cards?

Julee: Amazing! The cast and crew are one of the nicest, most relaxed, and warmest people I’ve ever met on set which is funny because it’s such a stiff and chilling show.

Qui: Your go­to place for Korean cuisine & Dominican Republic cuisine in New York?

Julee: Definitely Flushing, Queens for some authentic Korean dining and Washington Heights for Dominican food. You have to go where the people are.

Qui: One sentence. What do you hope to be able to say 5 years from now?

Julee: “Siri, do my hair and makeup.”


Cover image via

Asian Americans Share Their Experiences With #BeingAsian

In this year alone, I’ve seen Asian Twitter blowing up my feed with different hashtag conversations including: #OscarsSoWhite, #PraisinTheAsian, #StarringJohnCho and #WhitewashedOUT. To continue the conversation, we saw another hashtag spark more tweets about the Asian American experience.

On Tuesday, 17-year-old Michael Tarui sent out the following tweet: “I’m in a group chat and we’ve decided we should start a conversation of what it’s like #BeingAsian and the racism that comes with it.”

The hashtag spread like wildfire in the Twitter-sphere as many people used it to share their experience of what it’s like to be Asian American. Many tweeted about the struggles of being profiled and/or not fitting the profile of what is perceived as “Asian,” as well as the the perpetuation of insensitive stereotypes like the Model Minority.

While the hashtag was meant to point out racism towards Asians, some also used it to hash out grievances within the Asian American community, specifically racism within the community towards other people of color.

Even with its serious purpose, the hashtag has also been used to spread humor and positivity.

While #BeginAsian has added more key points to the conversation within the Twitter-verse, I hope that we can keep the it going. In the meantime, we should all just follow the words of immigration activist and journalist Jose Antonio Vargas: