A blessing of the new mural at Queen Kaʻahumanu Center entitled Ka Wahine o Kekoa was held Tuesday, Dec. 13, 2022 at the project site, located on the exterior wall of the former Sears retailer.
The blessing was led by Uncle Bill Garcia, a member of the Royal Order of Kamehameha and also a Kakalaleo, or Kumu in the art of chant, for hālau Nā Hanona Kūlike O Piʻilani.
Painted by Fathima Mohiuddin as a project of nonprofit Maui Public Art Corps, the public artwork is an interpretation of a recorded talk-story between Kekoa Enomoto of ʻAhahui Kaʻahumanu and Queen Kaʻahumanu Center’s Kauwela Bisquera, with additional symbolism garnered through Kahului community consultations over a 6-week design period.
The work was created in partnership with the County of Maui’s SMALL TOWN * BIG ART initiative and sponsored by Queen Kaʻahumanu Center, the National Endowment for the Arts, the Atherton Family Foundation, Fred Baldwin Memorial Foundation, and Imua Family Services.
“‘Warrior women’ was the theme I started with having listened to the conversation between Aunty Kekoa and Kauwela,” said Mohiuddin. “There was a warm softness in their voices accompanied by a striking sense of sturdiness. Nohe (Uʻu-Hodgins) spoke of women as carriers of the emotional work of society when we chatted about her upbringing in Kahului, her children and her recent venture into politics. I picked up on this note early on and it was reinforced through our dialogues the following weeks. Stories of journey, of nurturing, of fortitude, of community. Of people coming together to celebrate history, heritage and cultures that came from abroad. And a place where love lives. I placed the naupaka front and center as I thought to myself “this is where love lives”. Love of home. Of community. Of greeting every situation with Aloha. And the poetic love of Lisa and Halemanu (Villiarimo) that radiates from them even more in person. A love of kindness. Of giving and sharing. Of togetherness.”
Queen Kaʻahumanu Center General Manager Kauwela Bisquera participated in Maui Public Art Corps’ Hui Mo‘olelo workshop series (mauipublicart.org/hui-moolelo) with Kumu Leilehua Yuen in April 2022. In June, she was paired with Kekoa Enomoto, ʻAhahui Kaʻahumanu and Chairwoman, Paʻupena Community Development Corporation, for a recorded talk-story session.
After two rounds of applications proposing how to interpret this story in mural form, artist Fathima Mohiuddin was selected by a community panel. Fathima spent 6 weeks co-designing the mural blueprint with the Kahului community and taught two workshops at Imua Inclusion Preschool, Kahului. A
dditionally, she worked closely with Hale Hō‘ike‘ike at the Bailey House/ Maui Historical Society Executive Director Sissy Lake-Farm to select a proverb from Mary Kawena Pukui’s ‘Ōlelo No‘eau: Hawaiian Proverbs and Poetical Sayings to firmly root the work in the history, culture and sense of place of Kahului: I ka noho pu ana a ‘ike i ke aloha. (It is only when one has lived with another that one knows the meaning of love).
“Maui’s tradition for generations, Queen Kaʻahumanu Center’s collaboration with Maui Art Corps culminates the Center’s 50th anniversary celebrations in 2022. We are thrilled to pay homage to our Center’s namesake through public art and further a community moʻolelo informed process rooted in place.” said QKC general manager Kauwela Bisquera.
“Mahalo nui for the tremendous privilege of including me in this remarkable project,” said Enamoto. “I am truly honored. The mural is stunning; I am thrilled to see and feel its imagery, colors and spirit. Mahalo for the hugest holiday gift imaginable.”
To listen to the recorded story that inspired this public artwork, as well as the many others that helped to root the work in a Kahului sense of place, please visit mauipublicart.org/fathima.