Of the Land by Artist Sachelle Dae
MANA WAHINE: SACHELLE DAE @ First Hawaiian Bank
In 2021, participants of our ST*BA storytelling exchange led by artist Leilehua Yuen were paired up with community kūpuna to engage in an open talk story session. Drawing on our training through StoryCorps DIY, pairings of two individuals met for a 40-minute, audio-recorded conversation with the goal of capturing an authentic moment of connection. This collection became the basis for an RFP (request for proposals) wherein artists were asked to bring one or more stories to life through public art.
In June 2022, Maui-based artist Sachelle Dae presented a series of three oil paintings inspired by two talk story recordings: One between Anuhea Yagi, Student of Hawaiian Life Ways and Roselle Bailey, Kumu Hula, KaʻImi Naʻauao O Hawaii Nei Institute, and another 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. The artist's paintings have been scanned, super-sized and temporarily exhibited facing Market Street from First Hawaiian Bank Wailuku Branch (27 North Market Street), and were complemented with a written work by poet Anuhea Yagi. Click the GIF below to enjoy the project documentary.
Sachelle's work is further inspired through ‘ōlelo no‘eau #2829: Ua mau ke ea o ka `āina i ka pono (the life of the land is preserved in righteousness), sharing the following: "In some ways I wanted to pick an ‘ōlelo no‘eau that I was less familiar with but this one stuck out to me so much I had to go with my instinct. I feel that it speaks so much with Roselle Bailey's mana'o on intention and also knowing her involvement with sovereignty. Other thoughts I had that connected this train of thought is Aunty Wallette's family farming kalo in Waikapu, her mentioning to us in the consultation about reaching out to young people about sense of place... as well as Anuhea talking about giving their baby Luana knowledge about names of winds etc. and giving her the connection to place and culture that they were not able to have."
Artist Statement: Through the wisdom and stories of community members three oil paintings were created. When listening, I reflected not only at what they were saying but the feeling behind their words. What connects all these paintings is a love for the land and the aspiration of righteous perpetuity for the future. This love is shown through Hawaiian cultural practices such as Oli as well as through ancestral ties and historical familiarity. The first painting "Wailuku" depicts the different values vowels and elements have in the environment by way of Oli. These sounds are unique to this place and all sounds come together in symphonic harmony. These elements are also found in the makeup of our bodies. The second painting "Manifestation of Vibration" depicts the vibration of sound carried through on the breath of life during Oli and manifesting by going up to the heavens and back down into our earthly realm. The third painting "Mrs. Wailuku" shows Aunty Wallette as a young woman in front of her old house which is now Hui Malama. The building to the right of her is her grandparents business Maui Dry Goods and Groceries, and above the building is her grandmother whom always had overripe bananas in her home and Aunty Wallette can still smell to this day. There is a nexus of love here through a sense of place in Wailuku being her hometown as well as ancestral ties.
PHOTOS: Sean Hower
From art camp as a young child at Hui Noʻeau to studying realism painting as a young adult in Philadelphia, PA, Sachelle Dae has had a love for art her whole life. Now living back in her home on the island of Maui, she creates artwork that combines her background in classical realism painting with fantastical and abstract elements. She is a recipient of the State Foundation on Culture and The Arts Acquisition Award and has recently had her work exhibited at the Hawai'i State Art Museum. She was also a part of Hawai'i's statewide 2022 Schaefer Portrait Challenge. Aside from being a professional artist, Sachelle has extensive experience teaching art to children and young adults. While living in Philadelphia, she worked with a non-profit that brought art into inner city Philadelphia title 1 public schools.
PROPOSAL EXCERPT + SAMPLE WORK:
I have been following Small Town Big Art projects and have always wanted to be involved. The older I become, the more I ask the question, "what can i give?" rather than, "what can i have?". I feel that community-involved public art answers this question well. I've decided to make three paintings based off of Roselle Bailey's and Wallette Pellegrino's talks. I think these two go well together because they have a nice contrast of immateriality and materiality. Consequently, as hinted in Bailey's talk the vibrations/intention pulled from immateriality manifest into this world. Wailuku is a physical place but also carries a spirit. No place is just physical. The first and last painting would be an investigation into Bailey's mana'o on Oli and that contractual element as well as paying homage to the original way of record-keeping in Hawai'i through Oli. The second painting in between those two would delve into Pellegrino's memory of old Wailuku town and represent what are now "remnants".