Positive role model and cultural wayfinder Terri Lei Napeahi (born 1961) has her year-old Papa Mu Art Gallery comprised of treasures by nearly 60 Native Hawaiian creators astride Hilo’s Prince Kuhio Plaza Center Court.
Terri specializes in oil painting, and her vision is to inspire other Native Hawaiian artisans and crafters to express their love for culture and environment through their works of art.
“Papa Mu” known also as the Konane (checker board game), is the name of her art business. The inspiration of this name came from hiking and gathering information about her ancient ancestors in the ruins of Pohue and Kahahakea, Ka’u.
“It was a humbling experience walking the ancient foot-beaten paths on pahoehoe and ‘a’a lava flows. The trails were marked with ancient white coral placed like large bread crumbs throughout the vast black and red-hued lava flows. It illuminated at night to show the way for travelers. The lava tubes and caves preserved the ancient remnants from the harsh elements. The Papa Mu was carved out usually on a flat pahoehoe surface sometimes found near sacred and significant places. It was said that it was used for successful strategic planning and decision making. I know that this concept of success is a sure way of creating strategic harmony within ourselves and with others. We need to be positive as opportunities come before us and believe that we can be successful as we strategically plan our future.”
From her bio:
Terri Napeahi is a Native Hawaiian artist from Hilo, Hawaii. She was raised and nurtured in a close-nit Hawaiian community called Keaukaha. She still resides in this Hawaiian community raising her three children. Education has always been an important part of her life. She is a graduate of Hilo High School 1979 and a graduate of Hawaii Community College Carpentry Class of 2004. She has her Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration from the University of Hawaii @ Hilo College of Business and Economics.
Terri enjoys oil painting, hiking, surfing, swimming, scuba diving, jogging, camping and growing taro (Kalo). She shares these hobbies with her children so they can appreciate the environment and its resources.
Her love for oil painting was enlightened by the beloved artist Pua Borges of Keaukaha, who had taken the time to share a talent with Terri when she was just 14 years old at a church art activity. She later took an art class from Mr. Earl Dela Cruz of Hilo High School and still continues to paint today. She is truly inspired by the natural beauty of Hawaii and her life experiences as a Native Hawaiian. She expresses her love for her culture and people through her paintings. She is an advocate for preserving the natural resources that bring the breath of life and beauty to the islands and its people.
Terri’s self-worth was nurtured in her native Keaukaha with its quintessential ohana family quality. Terri’s voracious reading and global spatial learning include exemplars Napoleon Hill and Lee Kuan Yew, along with Hilo natives Robert Kiyosaki and former solon Jimmy Arakaki.
Terri Napeahi’s perseverance is unequalled, impelled by kuleana [stake] in the future, so to speak, steeped in both nature [DNA wanderlust/ea — life of its own — a la Kamehameha the Great & his military trinity of John Young, Isaac Davis, & Capt. Vancouver] and nurture [akin to the Social Gospel] — “who I am” the crucible. Incredulous inversion of societal conventional expectation — our female entrepreneur with no race-based government or private funding [no OHA-Alu Like-KS source monies] who endures to the end — whose responsibility to the Hawai`i manifests in her gallery’s bona fide authentic Hawaiian creations of art and craft.
Terri’s metaphorical headstone shall read, “One who loves to serve others.” Terri’s selfless sacrifice is to realize the hopes and dreams of her Hawaiian Nation, of self-determination which reflects Terri’s self-made nature. Observing Terri is like living a contemporary adventure with a modern-day explorer who ventures into the unknown frontier like heroic wayfarers in our mystery novels of old — replete with a visionary like Terri, along with a multitude of heroes, patrons, and pirates. A heartstopping odyssey.
Or perhaps our analog British Navy bluejacket Jackie Cornwell, mortally wounded, who stayed by his exposed post at the ship’s huge gun, waiting for orders under heavy fire, with just his own brave heart and the Almighty’s hand to hold him upright. As modest, accommodating, and thoughtful as he was in peacetime, so he was bold, determined, and imperturbable in battle.
Download PDF: Terri Lei Napeahi
Papa Mu Art Gallery is located in Hilo’s Prince Kuhio Plaza, center court (zone D).