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A dedication and blessing ceremony for “Nā Kiaʻi o Kapolei” was held on March 25

Six 11-to-15-foot red and bronze steel structures, a new work of art titled “Nā Kiaʻi o Kapolei” or “The Guardians of Kapolei,” now welcome all to the University of Hawaiʻi–West Oʻahu.

person blessing sculpture
Lelemia Irvine at the dedication and blessing ceremony.

“Nā Kiaʻi o Kapolei” was dedicated and blessed on March 25, at the grassed circle near the campus entrance. Nearly 100 guests attended the ceremony, featuring a program of kūkulukumuhana (pooling of energy) and mū ka waha (sharing silence with intention) to welcome each kiaʻi into the community and campus.

“I think it’s a beautiful representation of our future,” UH West Oʻahu student Haliʻaaloha Maʻele-Ramos said. “Nā Kiaʻi will protect all those that come to educate themselves and will bestow on them the mana (energy/power) that is needed to persevere and become a force of change within the world.”

2 woman wearing lei
UH West Oʻahu Chancellor Maenette Benham, left, with “Nā Kia‘i o Kapolei” artist Jessica Kay Bodner.

The sculpture by artist Jessica Kay Bodner is the Hawaiʻi State Foundation on Culture and the Arts’ (SFCA) latest Art in Public Places Program installation.

Bodner said “Nā Kiaʻi” represents guardians and the six Hawaiian Islands served by the University of Hawaiʻi to her, but are really open to interpretation by the viewer.

“They are abstract in nature, giving the viewer their own inspiration and ideas as to what it means to them personally, possibly opening up avenues for dialogue and learning,” she said. “It is my hope that these kiaʻi serve as a beacon and landmark for the campus community for many years to come.”

The sculptures, inspired by anuʻu (Hawaiian oracle towers), are made of woven stainless steel and are painted to reflect the volcanic red dirt characteristic of the region.

“We are very fortunate to commission an artist who could create such meaningful work of art for this space,” SFCA Executive Director Karen Ewald said. “The State Foundation is honored to fulfill projects such as these as we work to beautify our public spaces and celebrate the cultures that make Hawaiʻi so special.”

For more visit Ka Puna O Kaloʻi.

—By Zenaida Serrano Arvman

To see more photos from the event, visit the Kiaʻi o Kapolei Blessing album on Flickr.

red column sculpture
“Nā Kiaʻi o Kapolei”
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