Many birds live alone, but crows live in a group called a murder. ʻAlalā, or Hawaiian crows, are sacred in Hawaiian culture and regarded as ʻaumākua or family spiritual guardians.
Takemoto, a visual artist, Associate Professor, Humanities Department Chair and Visual Arts Program Coordinator at University of Hawaiʻi Maui College, has created a collection of stencils that will be handed out to students and community members along with charcoal powder to install hundreds of crow silhouettes along the sidewalks of Market Street, at Kīpuka Square, at the MAPA buildings at the Promenade and Black Box Theater and at fellow SMALL TOWN * BIG ART artist Sean Baba's gallery Fresh Island Art.
Selected in collaboration with Sissy Lake-Farm, Director of Hale Hōʻikeʻike at The Bailey House Museum/ Maui Historical Society, the ‘ōlelo no‘eau (Hawaiian proverb) that inspired Takemoto is “Hoʻolaukanaka i ka leo o nā manu, (the voices of birds give the place a feeling of being inhabited).
“The concept is to cover exterior walls and public spaces with charcoal images of the ʻalalā, or Hawaiian crow, the most endangered corvid species in the world,” shares Takemoto, “Since the images will be in charcoal, they will slowly fade away with time and exposure to the weather. The piece is a metaphor to the plight of the ʻalalā, as their numbers have been decimated through the loss of their natural habitation and the incursion of non-native species. I feel this project will help to bring more knowledge and awareness about Maui Nuiʻs fragile environment and ecological system.”
According to the ʻAlalā Project, ʻalalā is "also a term for a style of chant used to further project ones voice, a messenger in battle who calls out a chief’s commands to his warriors and a cry of a baby. Their dark color represents unpredictable things. If an ʻAlalā was seen or heard upon entering a place, this was seen as a warning sign to not continue on. ʻAlalā are associated with ʻanāʻanā (Hawaiian dark magic).”
In addition to creating your very own temporary ʻalalā artwork throughout the week, SMALL TOWN * BIG ART will host a pop-up performing arts component to “A Murder of ʻAlalā" on Wednesday, March 18 at 5:30 PM in Kīpuka Square. Join as a voice to share poetry, story excerpts or other works of the written word that share the many different views of ravens, crows, ʻalalā and more. You decide! Voices from Maui Academy of Performing Arts, Maui OnStage, University of Hawaiʻi Maui College and others will take to one of many soapboxes throughout the Square to share impromptu works. We hope you will, too! RSVP here.