This Fall marked the two-year anniversary of the mural painted by Tatiana Suarez and Kamea Hadar in the neighbourhood of Little Haiti. The collaborative mural was organised by ocean lifestyle brand, Olukai, kicking off Anywhere Aloha—a campaign which shares the spirit of Aloha globally. With the unveiling of their follow-up mural along the historic Miami River, the project’s inspiring message comes full circle.
The mural is located underneath the South Miami Avenue drawbridge in downtown near the mouth of the Miami River. “Because the ocean plays such a vital role in both our cultures, it was important to paint this mural near a body of water.” said Suarez. “Certain areas of the River are heavily polluted so we wanted to raise awareness with this project. It’s important for me as a local to encourage people to explore this overlooked yet vital part of Miami.” In conjunction with the mural, Suarez has partnered with her husband, David Iglesias and gallerist/curator Nicholas Platzer to launch Dredge Arts—a public arts initiative bringing awareness, inspiration and revitalisation to the Miami River. “We’re counting on works like these to beautify the community but also help tell its story.”
Depicted in the piece are two river nymphs. Viewed as protectors, their gazes point East and West, following the river’s path. They are shown wearing a traditional Haku lei composed of tropical flora found in both Hawaii and Miami. “The Haku lei is a symbol of affection,” said Hadar. “With it we’re bringing care and devotion to the River.” Between the girls lies a Lotus Flower, which is symbolic for the Brazilian legend of Vitoria Regia. Suarez, who is half Brazilian, says the story means a great deal to her both culturally and emotionally. A few months back while planning the mural, she was met with the untimely loss of her cousin during a drowning accident on the Mississippi River. “The legend is about a girl who wanted to touch the moon. She reached for the moon’s reflection in the water, fell in and never emerged. The moon felt pity for the girl, turning her into the flower that blooms beautifully during the moonlight. The Lotus is dedicated to my cousin. She herself was an artist and a beautiful human being who embodied all the same principles of Aloha.”