Maui Arts & Entertainment

Arizona artist tours Wailuku for inspiration to create sculpture for Imua Discovery Garden

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  • At ‘Iao Valley, artist Bobby Zokaites learns about the area’s history. Photo Courtesy: SMALL TOWN * BIG ART
  • At ʻIao Valley, artist Bobby Zokaites learns about the history of the area. Photo Courtesy: SMALL TOWN * BIG ART
  • Arizona-based artist Bobby Zokaites is meeting with many people in Wailuku to learn about the town’s history, culture and sense of place. Photo Courtesy: SMALL TOWN * BIG ART

Arizona-based artist Bobby Zokaites and his studio assistant Kara Roschi are on a weeklong site visit to Wailuku to learn about its history, culture and sense of place for a sculpture they will create for a SMALL TOWN * BIG ART and Imua Discovery Garden project.

During a call to artists, Zokaites was selected to create a large-scale set of wings as a standalone sculpture that inspires inclusion, inspiration and discovery.

In his biography, Zokaites says his work is colorful and “meant to be touched, climbed on and played with. Enthusiastic about the idea of play, I investigate themes of adventure and childhood, while utilizing fabrication and assembly methods inspired by Industrial processes.”

The sculpture will be installed at Imua Family Services’ newly acquired six-acre Imua Discovery Garden located at the former Yokouchi family estate in Wailuku. The artwork will be accessible to the public – providing an interactive experience where young children can stand in front of the work and feel a sense of awe, empowerment and play as the moment is captured for an ongoing photo project.

Zokaites will take four months to create the sculpture based on the information and experiences he garners during this site visit and ongoing community consultations. The artitist will fabricate the piece in his home studio and assemble it on Maui in June. 

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“Regularly working across geographies has made me a natural collaborator who recognizes the value in the expertise-of-place held by residents,” Zokaites said. “My public art process begins by identifying what excites the community by tuning into the emotional cues within local storytelling. These dialogs are seeded by my own advance research into the histories of region and its communities.

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“Gravitating especially to tales of ingenuity and adventure, unknown or under-told stories, I’ve found that current residents often have interesting anecdotes that add insight and nuance to the accounts of record. From those conversations, I then design towards sculpturally articulating poignant notes or recurring themes as substantial touchstones informing the larger form or function of the work.”

His site visit includes excursions into ʻIao Valley and Kepaniwai Heritage Gardens with Sissy Lake-Farm, a tour of the Bailey House Museum with Kimo Guequierre, Waihe’e Coastal Dunes and Wetlands Refuge with Hawaiʻi Land Trust Chief Conservation Officer Scott Fisher, Ph.D, Waihe’e Ridge Trail with Kim Thayer of Mauna Kahālāwai, the Wailuku public art walking tour with SMALL TOWN * BIG ART’s Kelly McHugh-White, and the vast property of Imua Discovery Garden with Executive Director Dean Wong. 

“The seemingly miraculous transitions between caterpillar, cocoon and butterfly evoke a wide range of meanings and ideas in cultures around the world,” Wong said. “For Imua Family Services, as an organization which strives to help children reach their full potential in life, these transformations represent rebirth, inclusion, creativity, joy, promise and the capacity to experience and enjoy the beauty of life. Through our collaboration with STBA and Bobby Zokaites, we hope to provide a visual representation and internal feeling of transformation and the potential to fly.”

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Please visit https://www.smalltownbig.org/zokaites.html for ongoing details, conversations and announcements regarding this project, and https://imuagarden.org to learn more about the work of Imua. 

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