Updated: October 1, 2022
Visitors to the University of Hawai’i Maui College Campus Health Center are now welcomed by a spectacular work created by Maui artist Noble Richardson. “Still in Your Light” is, literally, a voyage.
As visitors move through the facility, they will encounter three murals with meaning both deeply cultural and also universal – that everyone stands on the shoulders of ancestors, learns from experienced elders and, hopefully, then has the knowledge and courage to navigate his or her own journey with a healthy body, mind, and soul.
Born and raised in Wailuku, Richardson is known for the masterful murals he has painted in Wailuku and Kahului. He has also been the Wailuku Elementary School “artist in residence” for years, a role of which he is very proud.
“Still in Your Light” took a year to go from concept to completed work.
“My thoughts bounced visual ideas for a couple months and I was still unable to make a strong commitment. Then, I heard a radio commercial with Archie Kalepa. The genuine tone of his message sent me diving into more research and one quote gave my vision strength. He said, ‘You cannot fight for something you don’t understand, but if you begin to learn and understand, you can stand up for it, you can protect it.’”
Richardson also relates strongly to the power of three – mind, body, soul; past, present, future – in his life as well as in his art.
“I related the quote to wayfinding and had an amazing conversation with Kala (Babayan Tanaka). Before telling her about my concept for the work, she shared her thoughts based on mind, body and spirit. I told her I’d like to portray this philosophy of wayfinding through her lifestyle and that of her father, Chad Babayan, and Archie Kalepa. It was only then that I found out they were all related as Kalepa ‘Ohana. Nothing could fit more perfectly than that.
“As my journey creating this piece set sail, my kuleana to represent this ‘ohana and the legacy they carry for the Hawaiian people began to increase. That kuleana challenged me to give this project what it needed, and the result was a combination of onsite mural installation, in-studio oil paintings, as well as evolving ingenuity and faith,” said Richardson.
“The murals depict icons of the Maui Polynesian voyaging community. They have found their passion in life and this passion has led to them achieving accolades from the Hawai‘i community and beyond. This is what we want our students to aspire to – find their passions, share their voices with the world, and be accomplished in service to their community,” said UHMC Chancellor Dr. Lui Hokoana.
“The murals are examples of excellent visual design, composition, and technical proficiency,” says noted visual artist and UHMC Professor of Art, Mike Takemoto. “At the same time, the work has a cultural, historical, and spiritual significance. Noble brought all these elements together in a highly relevant work of art which reflects the past, present, and future. It brings an incredible sense of space and time to our campus. It transcends the ordinary and makes us more conscious of our community’s relevance.”
Takemoto is a big fan of public art – in fact, he teaches a course with that focus.
“Public art is a vital and important communication tool. It’s accessible and can reach a wide audience. Public art can also be used as a catalyst for change for the better, cultural and community awareness, and serve as a catalyst for intellectual growth and development.”
The benefits of art to physical and emotional health – for both healthcare workers AND patients – are well documented. “The murals are unexpected,” said Leslie Watson, one of the frontline staff at the UHMC Health Center. “People walking into our space and discovering the mural are amazed. It fills me with much pride and our clinic with the most positive energy.”