Maui Arts & Entertainment

New course looks at art in public places

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Samuel “Kammy” Kaiwi designed and painted “Makahiki Mural” with assistance from students and faculty. The mural is on the campus of the University of Hawaii-Maui campus.

A new course about art in public places is being offered to not only college students, but also to the general public at the University of Hawaiʻi Maui College.

Non-students may take the course as a non-credit.

Instructor Michael Takemoto said the goal is for people to learn about and understand the importance of public art.


Takemoto, a respected artist himself, said the course work will be collaborative and interactive with students having opportunities to work as a team to design and create public artwork on the university’s campus.

Students will have no shortage of public art works. There are at least 30 public art works on campus.

State lawmakers have supported art in public places. In 1967, Hawaiʻi became the first state in the nation to adopt a percent of construction cost of new buildings for  the acquisition of works of art, either by commission or purchase.

Hawaii sculptor/painter Satoru Abe created “A Path Through The Trees” under a commission from the State Foundation of Culture and the Arts. The sculpture stands on the University of Hawaii-Maui campus. He was a Guggenheim fellow and selected to be an artist in residence by the National Endowment for the Arts.

Since the passage of the law, the State Foundation On Culture and the Arts has acquired works for the Art In Public Places Collection. 

The course work includes developing an understanding, appreciation and critical analysis of historic and contemporary public artworks from a multi-cultural perspective.

The course is in line with the thinking of artists looking at ways to engage the community in improving its understanding and appreciation of public art, including the “Small Town*Big Art” initiative for Wailuku Town.


Kelly McHugh-White who helped to develop the initiative said she’s working to create Maui Public Art Corps said public art is an important part of developing a healthy community.

“Public art bolsters cultural and economic growth while developing healthy, socially-connected citizens,” she said.

“It gives neighborhoods a stronger sense of place. It attracts diverse talent, innovation and economic vitality… It humanizes the built environment and invigorates public spaces.”

In developing course, Takemoto collaborated with college graphic designer and instructor Marc Antosch, who has a bachelor’s in Visual and Public Art from California State University Monterey Bay.

The Art 190 course Public Art will be offered in Fall 2022. For further details, please contact Takemoto at [email protected] and also visit the university’s Visual Arts Program online.

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