A collaboration of several Maui agencies working to develop an arts district celebrating the distinctive sense of place, history and culture of Wailuku has seen such a positive response from its work there that new grants have been awarded to help scale the work countywide.
SMALL TOWN * BIG ART is now seeking proposals for collaborative mural designs for new fitness courts at Keōpūolani Regional Park and Kahului Community Center Park in Kahului.
The fitness courts were made possible through a new partnership between the Hawai‘i Medical Service Association and the National Fitness Campaign, whose mission is to build healthy communities. With a 224-square-foot sheer wall backing the structures, each court presents an opportunity for an artist or artists to create a statement piece that enhances and enriches the site as well as addresses the public input received in a recent Maui County Public Art Community Survey to produce art that preserves local stories, environment and history.
The selected artist(s) will be commissioned to develop an innovative design that engages a diverse public audience and celebrates the site’s history, culture and sense of place. All professional artists and arts groups are welcome to apply.
“This opportunity with [Hawai‘i Medical Service Association] and the National Fitness Campaign will celebrate new, specific sites throughout Maui, and we look forward to learning more about how the community views these places through public art,” said Kelly McHugh-White, manager of SMALL TOWN * BIG ART and founder of Maui Public Art Corps, in a press release.
To date, 58 public artwork installations have been led by 70 professional artists in Wailuku, Kahului, Kahoʻolawe and Lānaʻi City through the SMALL TOWN * BIG ART effort. Each project is connected to ‘ōlelo (language) from Mary Kawena Pukui’s “‘Ōlelo No‘eau: Hawaiian Proverbs and Poetical Sayings,” in connection with Hale Hō‘ike‘ike at the Bailey House/Maui Historical Society. The program has produced numerous documentary films, a self-guided walking tour, the Ho’okama’āina mobile app, a free public art catalog and countless experiences to learn about, celebrate and explore these special places throughout Maui County.
Details regarding the program’s process, application criteria, budget and more are available by clicking here. Applications close at 7:59 p.m. July 31.
Developed through a 2018 Our Town grant by the National Endowment for the Arts, SMALL TOWN * BIG ART is a creative placemaking collaboration between Maui County, Hale Hōʻikeʻike at the Bailey House/Maui Historical Society and Maui Public Art Corps. The initiative, which is gearing up for its five-year anniversary, pairs professional artists with community consultants to co-create visual, performance and experiential art installations that align with ‘ōlelo from “‘Ōlelo No‘eau: Hawaiian Proverbs and Poetical Sayings.”
“I think SMALL TOWN * BIG ART is so crucial because it’s not just any art program,” said Sissy Lake-Farm, executive director of Hale Hōʻikeʻike at the Bailey House/Maui Historical Society, in the press release. “It emphasizes the importance of relating back to the place where these beautiful art pieces will be shown. There are such amazing, unique stories to each place and [SMALL TOWN * BIG ART] allows the artist to be inspired and be able to potentially hone in to some of these stories.”
McHugh-White said it is abundantly clear that the Maui community is craving active participation in the public artwork process. Through hands-on project development activities, community consultations and direct partnership with the Maui Historical Society, artists become vessels for place-based stories representative of a collective vision.
“Each work is a reflection of the community engagement process and helps to preserve the neighborhood’s distinct character and history,” McHugh-White said in the press release.
Mayor Richard Bissen added that public art helps preserve the community’s identity, deep history and cultural heritage. It also can serve as a reminder of the past, allowing future generations to connect with and appreciate the stories and values the community treasures.
“By showcasing public art, we reinforce and celebrate what’s important to our community and take pride in our sense of place,” Bissen said in the press release.