July 1, 2022
Yesterday at 4:30 PM, community members gathered for the public blessing and unveiling of SMALL TOWN * BIG ART (ST*BA)’s 24th public art project aimed to celebrate the distinctive sense of place, history, and culture of Wailuku.
A collection of three paintings by Sachelle Dae and a 10-minute performance by Anu Yagi were presented fronting First Hawaiian Bank Wailuku Branch at 27 North Market Street. Inspired by the developing Small Town, Big Stories initiative by the ST*BA collective – which includes the County of Maui, Hale Hōʻikeʻike at the Bailey House / Maui Historical Society, and the newly formed Maui Public Art Corps, Maui artists Dae and Yagi created artwork based on two audio-recorded conversations: one between Anuhea Yagi, Student of Hawaiian Life Ways and Roselle Bailey, Kumu Hula, KaʻImi Naʻauao O Hawaiʻi Nei Institute; and the second between Kalapana Kollars, Hawaiian Cultural Programs Director, Lahaina Restoration Foundation and Wallette Pellegrino, Host of “Preserving Our Recollections” Oral History TV Program for University of Hawaiʻi Maui College. Both recordings are available at smalltownbig.org/dae.
Uncle Bill Garcia began the June 30 event with a blessing, sharing four oli that he selected for their relationship with the artists’ intentions, inspiration, and selected proverb to root the work in its sense of place: ‘ōlelo no‘eau #2829: Ua mau ke ea o ka `āina i ka pono (the life of the land is preserved in righteousness).
Special remarks and impressions were shared by artwork subjects Roselle Bailey and Wallette Pellegrino as well as Sissy Lake-Farm of the Maui Historical Society, Lisa Tomihama, First Hawaiian Bank Senior Vice President & Retail Banking Regional Manager and Maui painter Sachelle Dae.
Artist Anu Yagi shared a work of performance art and poetry based on her experience with the project, who gave birth to her daughter Luana one week following her Talk Story recording with Roselle Bailey, and whose partner, Kalapana Kollars, recorded his Talk Story recording with Walllette Pellegrino one week after the birth – an event that found its way into each facet of the artwork, for both Yagi and Dae.
Excerpt: “You’re a baby now, but you will be a girl, a woman, a kupuna, an ancestor,” says Daddy to daughter. She is six months old, but we try to talk-story as if she were 6 or 16 or 60… 600… 6,000; knowing that she will be all these ages and then some. I try to think of her as both an eternal soul given new skin and a new life made of primordial molecules. Water, mostly.
“Working with ST*BA has been a very unique experience in that you are truly listening to community members and what they bring to the table,” shares Dae. “I’ve been energized and touched by the memories and knowledge that’s been shared with me, and I hope to create a reflection of woven images that we can all relate to and see ourselves as part of.”
“First Hawaiian Bank is proud to partner with this arts and culture initiative,” says Lisa Tomihama. “In listening to the talk story recordings between Anuhea Yagi, Roselle Bailey, Kalapana Kollars, and Wallette Pellegrino, I could feel the special sense of place for Wailuku and relate to the inspiration for Sachelle’s new exhibit. I am humbled and honored to exhibit Sachelle’s work at our historic Wailuku Branch and to partner with the extraordinary ‘Mana Wahine’ that have created art for this space.”
In preparation for the next ST*BA call-to-artists, the collective has recently produced 13 additional Talk Story audio recordings. Interested artists will be asked to select one or more recordings to create a proposal that brings these stories to life in song, poetry, dance, visual or other artistic discipline. Upon juror selection, artists are paired with community consultants to further co-develop the work, design community engagement opportunities and present the work of public art. Due to a new grant through the National Endowment for the Arts, artwork may be installed or performed in various neighborhoods throughout Maui County (beyond Wailuku). Recordings are available under "2022 HUI MO'OLELO" at smalltownbig.org/talk-story. The RFP/ call-to-artists will be released this summer. To be the first to know details, subscribe to the ST*BA email list at smalltownbig.org/e-newsletter.