Ancient Hawaiian athletes go head-to-head in challenging games and sports as flocks of observers commemorate the bounty of the land and its resources depicting pre-Western contact Hawaiʻi. This vivid array of colors and images is the subject of the new mural covering the front wall of the University of Hawaiʻi Maui College Kaʻaʻike building, set to be completed in September. The collaborative project is headed by UH Maui College student Samuel “Kammy” Kaiwi with the help of fellow student artists and painters.
The 25 by 70 foot mural started as a class project for UH Maui College instructor Mike Takemoto’s painting class, but took on a larger scale as Kaiwi worked to design the images and develop the story behind the piece. The overall theme of the mural is centered around makahiki season, a four month period in which ancient Hawaiians celebrated the prosperity of the land by allowing the land to replenish itself, stopping all work and instead participating in activities such as sports. Kaiwi’s design reflects on the energy behind makahiki, as well as some of the religious protocols and customs performed during the festival.
“I learned that there is a lot about the event itself that is humbling and exciting, and it’s given me a chance to be open minded about what I do and what I include in the wall,” said Kaiwi on the subject of his design. “If you look closely at the piece, you will [also] see some Hawaiian stories incorporated in the piece, like the moʻo, the shark boy, the relationship between Pele and Kamapuaʻa, the missing tooth, and things of this nature that are fun to interject into the painting and educational for those who are familiar with our folklore and stories.”
Student painters and artists including Malorie Arisumi, Mauro Castillo, James Kahalekai Jr. and Mark Olpindo are also working hard to help bring Kaiwi’s design to life.
“They are contributing to the campus by creating a monumental public art piece which reflects the values of our institution and of our host culture,” said Takemoto. “Through this experience, students will feel empowered and confident to pursue other opportunities on campus and in the community at large.”
“I hope that viewers of the mural will pause, observe, describe, discuss and reflect on the images that they see,” continued Takemoto. “There are so many details and stories that the mural has to offer.”
To view the album, visit the UH System Flickr site.