Bodner’s selected ʻōlelo noʻeau 'A 'ohe hana nui ke alu 'ia - No task is too big when done together by all was paired with a plan to hand sculpt a six-to-eight foot work from new and reclaimed steel, woven and welded to create a dramatic oversized version of a hīna’i which would serve “as a reminder and memory of the Native Hawaiians tie to the land and sea and one of the few fishing methods that women and children were allowed to participate in,” according to the artist’s proposal.
SMALL TOWN * BIG ART panelists were “absolutely stunned” by the artist’s work, proposal and experience in creating public artwork, according to Project Manager Kelly McHugh-White. “Having created over 30 public art installations in her 20-year career as a professional artist, Jessica is incredibly sensitive to art’s ability to build and enhance a sense of place; art that goes beyond physical attributes to tell a story through the eye of the beholder and to create a dialogue amongst a community.”
“What is this place? What is this thing? Why is it here?” shares Bodner, “Art in public places gives that sense of place, which is extremely important in sensitive places like Wailuku where war and turmoil once existed. It’s important for people to know the history before they can determine what they want from their community in the future.”
While working with the Public Works Wailuku Highways Division crew to help identify and install a base for the 250-pound sculpture, ST*BA Project Administrator Erin Wade was introduced to Life Scout Jonathan Kamehanaokala Merchant. Mentored by Wailuku Clean and Safe ambassador Lawrence Kauha'aha'a, Merchant is currently developing his Eagle Scout Project “Little Free Library,” which are public bookcases stationed in Wailuku to promote neighborhood book exchanges. The team embraced this idea by enlisting SMALL TOWN * BIG ART artist Amanda Joy Bowers, who meticulously painted a hīnaʻi in her collaborative Resemble The 'Alalā mural earlier this year, to hand paint the miniature libraries and set up time with Bodner and Lake-Farm to talk story about the concept 'a 'ohe hana nui ke alu 'ia - No task is too big when done together by all. Now, Merchant is part of the SMALL TOWN * BIG ART family with his community-building through the arts installation. Together with Bodner’s installation, these projects illustrate the proverb "Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day; teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.”
Merchant’s “Little Free Library” will be stationed at the Safety Office on Market Street in Wailuku, and will hold books for people in the community to take and return, effectively creating a free library that is easy to access. “I want to do this project because I have always found joy in reading a good book,” says Merchant, “Ever since I was in elementary school, I have loved to read. With this project, I hope to spread my love for reading with others, especially those who might not have access to books on a regular basis, hopefully increasing the communities’ love of learning, as well as improve the visual aspect.” When asked to select an ‘ōlelo no‘eau that best aligned with his intention, Merchant - like his January 3 unveiling partner Jessica Bodner - chose: 'A 'ohe hana nui ke alu 'ia - No task is too big when done together by all.
Join us for the free unveiling event in Kīpuka Square on Market Street (just beside Iao Theater) from 6 - 9 PM on Friday, January 3, 2020. Please consider donating a book to Merchant’s “Little Free Library” and joining the conversation at @smalltownbigart.