When asked "why is art important?" students offered profound responses that included, "it helps you share the feelings you don't have words for," "it lets you communicate with the people you love," and "it makes your creativity stronger." Chicken skin feedback that let us all know what a treat we were in for today.
Sissy went on to talk about ʻōlelo noʻeau, and why and how they are included in all ST*BA projects. "This is just one way that we can help to preserve and remember the history of Wailuku and to ensure that our story is being told for the next generation."
Two ʻōlelo noʻeau were presented to the group, narrowed down from 9 that Sissy and Ben have been discussing over the course of several weeks:
- Kamaliʻi i ke ʻole i ka helu pō: Muku nei, Muku ka malama: Hilo nei, kau ka Hoaka. (Children who do not know the moon phases: Muku is here, Muku the moon; Hilo comes next, then Hoaka). The first part of a childʻs chant for learning the names of the moon phases. Also said of one who does not know the answer to a question or is ignorant. He is compared to a small child who has not learned the moon phases.
- Puʻupuʻu lei pali i ka ʻāʻī. (An imperfect lei, beautified by wearing). Even an imperfect lei looks beautiful when worn around the neck-- as beautiful as flowers and greenery on the slope of a hill.
Sissy and Kelly then introduced the lovely husband and wife duo Ben and Eilish Volta, who are visiting Wailuku for 2 weeks from Philadelphia in order to gather stories, ideas and visuals for their SMALL TOWN * BIG ART piece, which will be installed in April 2020. "This weekend, we spent an afternoon exploring the Bailey House Museum and the surrounding gardens. Docent Lisa helped guide us through the complex history of the islands. We did not come to Maui with a formed idea of what we will create with students at Iao school. We were anticipating the biodiversity of the island, the clarity of the cosmos, and the pull of the full moon. Today we are spending most of the day drawing and searching for ways to bring our project into focus."
Ben and Eilish proceeded to hand out tracing paper with a sketch of each of the moon phases pre-drawn and asked students to fill in any phase of the moon of their choosing with anything they could think of. Botanical sketches from their day at Hale Hō‘ike‘ike at the Bailey House/ Maui Historical Society were offered to each table of students as a guide or starting point from which to create.
With the invaluable support of Mike Rose, the school's ukulele teacher, a schedule has been carefully put together that allows every 6th grade student at Iao School the opportunity to work with the visiting artists this week. Outside of the school workshops, the team plans to meet with elders and community members to discuss the project and create additional drawings to be included In the mural. Ben and Eilish will take the drawings made by students and community members back to Philadelphia to scan and construct the collaborative artwork, which will be printed on mural cloth at their studio in and shipped to Wailuku to be installed on a wall. Ben will return in April to install the mural cloth and paint parts of the mural with students and community members, along with partnering Wailuku artist Kirk Kurokawa.
Some photos from today's introductory workshop: