Artist Creates Replica of Church Windows Lost in Fire 42 Years Ago
A work of art is paying tribute to a piece of Mauiʻs history.
The piece, created by Maui artist Andy Behrle, is a light installation that depicts a stained glass window from St. Anthony Church that was lost to an arson fire in 1977.
The blaze destroyed the church and devastated its community.
“It was a sad and traumatic loss for our parish,” according to the St. Anthony Church Community website.
“But through prayer, hard work and the generosity of many wonderful parishioners and Maui community leaders, St. Anthony Church rose from the ashes.”
The structure that stands today was dedicated three years after the tragedy.
Earlier this year, a group of vandals broke into the church and defiled multiple statues and religious items.
Behrle hopes his piece will restore glory to the place of worship.
“I have been drawn to St. Anthony’s for a number of reasons. First, it was a magnificently beautiful building. Having been lost to fire over 40 years ago, it has faded in the collective memory of the community,” Behrle said in a blog post from the Small Town*Big Art project, a Maui County-led initiative to revitalize Wailuku Town through art.
“This was a place where holidays and weddings were celebrated, lives of loved ones were mourned, and a shared hope for the future was cultivated. People connected there. It has been lost in form, but forged together (a) community.”
But creating the piece was a lengthy process that involved months of planning and patience.
Behrle, who was hand-selected from over 50 other artists for the ST*BA project, spent two months searching for a discernible picture of the churchʻs windows prior to its last rebuild in 1980.
With no luck, Behrle decided to reach out to the public for help.
A week after putting out a call for pictures, Behrle and the ST*BA team received dozens of submissions, but none of them provided clear details of the window.
Fortunately, the team was able to connect with church members, an expert from the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa, and even Mayor Michael Victorino to get a better picture of the iconic buildingʻs history.
Since then, Behrle has spent months stitching together footage of Wailuku river as a part of his “site-specific” and “site-responsive” style to “reflect upon the cultural, geologic, and social histories of places where he has lived.”
The church window depiction will mimic the stream as an effort to “investigate global systems through regional water use issues.”
Titled “Lost and Found,” the piece will be unveiled on the exterior of the ʻĪao Theatre building from 7:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. on Friday.