Visitors to the University of Hawaiʻi Maui College Campus Health Center are now welcomed by a series of murals of Polynesian Voyaging Society Apprentice Navigator Kala Baybayan Tanaka; her father the late Chad Kālepa Baybayan, who was a master navigator, sailed on Hōkūle‘a, and served as navigator-in-residence at the ʻImiloa Astronomy Center of Hawaiʻi; and distinguished waterman Archie Kalepa.
Related story: In memoriam: Chad Kālepa Baybayan
“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 Hawaiʻi community and beyond,” said Chancellor Lui Hokoana. “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.”
The murals’ creator, Maui artist Noble Richardson, said “Still in Your Light” is, literally, a voyage. As visitors move through the facility, they will encounter three paintings with deep cultural meaning—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.
“As my journey creating this piece set sail, my kuleana (responsibility) to represent this ʻohana 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,” Richardson said.
Professor Mike Takemoto said the new murals have cultural, historical and spiritual significance. He is a public art advocate and teaches a course on it.
“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,” Takemoto said.
Art has also been shown to benefit physical and emotional health, for both healthcare workers and patients.
“The murals are unexpected,” said Leslie Watson, one of the frontline staff at the UH Maui College 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.”