Hawaiian artist Sean Yoro, professionally known as HULA, is widely appreciated for his unique murals painted near and in large bodies of water. His love of nature and surfing has inspired him to create haunting artworks that speak of various environmental concerns, depicting figures that emerge from the water and blend with the surrounding environment.
For his latest project, “Deep Seads,” HULA set out to bring awareness around the issue of dying coral reefs and inspire positive change by taking the plunge and painting underwater murals for the first time. His series is composed of three murals (“Lumens,” “Breath” and “Buried”) that combine his signature expressive figures with elements of the marine environment, such as jellyfish and water bubbles.
His most challenging project so far had HULA create artificial reefs that are meant to jump-start marine growth, over which his murals send powerful messages about the fragility of aquatic life and the urgency of environmental protection.
Having painted on icebergs and on the edge of waterfalls in the past, HULA was used to difficult conditions. Still, he further surpassed his limits for the creation of “Deep Seads,” undergoing intense physical and mental training for one year in order to be able to free-dive for the project without scuba equipment. For each mural, HULA spent an average of 3-4 days of work, with approximately 10 hours in the water.
The materials produced by HULA required in-depth testing in order to ensure they were safe for marine life and adequate to use underwater. His natural pigments give the murals a transient nature, as in the case of his other works. In “Deep Seads,” the ephemeral aspect of the murals is further intensified by the marine organisms that started covering the paintings as early as two weeks after completion.
Over time, HULA’s artificial reefs are designed to become homes to a flourishing marine life.