Updated: December 1, 2023
More than 20 students, faculty and staff gathered in the Heona Fine Arts Studio last week to begin work on a new three-panel, 40-foot by 8-foot acrylic on canvas mural. It will be the centerpiece of UH Maui College’s new Student Lounge.
Those familiar with the Kahului campus know there is an abundance of art in public places, most notably the stunning Makahiki mural which covers the Great Lawn-facing wall of the Ka’a’ike Building.
According to the creator of this new mural, UH Maui College Graphic Designer Marc Antosch, there’s always room for more. “Initially, the idea was to transform a huge wall inside the Ka’a’ike Building,” he said.
After Chancellor Lui (Hokoana) heard about the project, he suggested the new student lounge might be a great place to showcase the mural, especially if students were going to be a part of the process.
“The idea started with bringing the outside in,” Antosch said. “It began with ʻāina (land) as a central subject, then wai/kai (freshwater/sea), and then indigenous animals as the other two panels. The artistic style was inspired by the works of Hawai‘i artist Heather Brown. I’ve always felt her use of color, movement, and theme brings a sense of positivity while embracing the natural beauty that’s all around us – in a very stylized, aesthetically pleasing way.”
Most of the students who participated in the first session are in Art Professor Michael Takemoto’s printmaking class this semester. Takemoto is co-coordinator of the mural project and started the session with a little history of public art and a very helpful acrylic painting demonstration that calmed the jittery nerves of some first-time painters.
“I am a big fan of public art. I think murals enrich our campus and help us make spaces look more like the ways our community feels. I am not usually a painter,” said student Stephanie Serraglio, who identifies more as a ceramicist, “but I found it relaxing to paint and it was beautiful to see all that we created together, as a group. I would love to participate in the other panels, and I am so excited to see them installed.”
Pokai Kanaele is a third year Liberal Arts student. His artistic pursuits are inspired by his brother. “There is a six-year difference in our ages and my brother has autism, so when I was in the fifth and sixth grades, my brother was a junior and senior in high school. Although our interests and activities were not the same, I became interested in graphic design when my brother kept coming home with stickers and T-shirts that he had made in his graphic arts classes. He raved about his great teacher and I couldn’t wait until I could take those classes in high school, as well. What I learned from that same great teacher inspired me to continue to college and pursue a career in graphic design.”
Kanaele was one of the mural painters who focused on the ‘ulu tree. “This project is a great way to have students and faculty members participate in creating art with each other as well as to create beautiful art around the UHMC campus. I think the murals will enable new and enrolled students to see the beauty of Hawai‘i and create the feeling of aloha that the Island and the school have to offer,” he said.
“It was really wonderful to see students, faculty, and staff working together on a creative endeavor. I feel that the arts have the power to develop community and at the same time, give individuals a means to express themselves. This first mural project session was successful on all those levels. Stay tuned for parts 2 and 3,” said Takemoto.
Although the mural was planned long before the Aug. 8 wildfires, its purpose has taken on some additional meaning.
“It felt like the time was right to start bringing the idea to life. Collaborative art really brings people together. It builds a connection. It allows everyone a chance to meet new people and work together toward a common goal. Personally, I feel there is a therapeutic component to the creative process, especially when brush meets paint and paint meets surface. What happens after that is when the magic begins,” said Antosch.