Maui Public Art Corps unveils “Maui Strong” public art project
Maui Public Art Corps announced the installation of a new public art project, “Maui Strong,” showcasing the artistic talents of 600 students who dedicated their creative efforts to convey resilience amid the recent Maui wildfires.
In the wake of the challenges posed by the wildfires, Maui Public Art Corps collaborated with students across the region to channel their emotions and reflections into a powerful visual representation of unity and strength. “The result is a vibrant collection of drawings that encapsulate the indomitable spirit of the Maui community,” organizers said.
The “Maui Strong” project serves as a testament to the resilience of the island’s youth and their ability to find hope and inspiration even in challenging times, organizers said. The artwork, which is now displayed prominently along a 1,000-foot stretch of the Honoapiʻilani Highway in Lahaina, on the mauka side just past Safeway, invites the community to reflect on the shared experiences following the wildfires and celebrate the collective strength that emerged from adversity.
“We are immensely proud of our students and their commitment to expressing the spirit of ‘Maui Strong’ through their art,” said Jayme Kahoohalahala of ʻĪao Intermediate School. “This project not only showcases their creativity but also stands as a symbol of solidarity and resilience for the entire community.”
Yukki Shin of Maui Waena Intermediate School added, “It is powerful for our Maui Waena students to see their voices take wing, spread beyond their campus and experience their art being shared and embraced by the whole island. The students’ driving purpose was to promote a sense of belonging and collaborating among students and staff through artwork as Maui Stays Strong.”
“It was really cool to be a part of this project and even cooler to see the colorful artwork pop out amongst the ash and debris behind it,” shares Truth Excavation LLC Owner Kimo Clark, who partnered with Maui Public Art Corps to install the artwork in collaboration with West Maui Construction and Goodfellow Bros, “Another symbol of hope of what’s to come.”
According to Maui Public Art Corps Chair Kelly McHugh-White, the public art project originated with an invitation to partner with Maui Waena Intermediate, as their student activity coordinators collected donations of hundreds of hydro flasks and school supplies for displaced students. Teachers approached McHugh-White to request local artist designed stickers to help personalize these new items.
The response by Maui Public Art Corps’ roster of artists was so strong that they received stickers and artwork from 100+ artists globally. With the support of a #MauiStrong grant through the Hawaii Community Foundation, the organization was able to design a hands-on Sticker Buffet activity for interested schools to design their own “Maui Strong” inspired artwork in exchange for artist stickers, offering a creative outlet for students reassigned to new schools while helping them regain a sense of ownership, identity, and normalcy during this challenging time.
The resulting “Maui Strong” themed artwork created by participating students was thought-provoking, inspiring, mournful, and empowered. With the help of ʻĀina Archaeology, the County of Maui, Truth Excavation, West Maui Construction, Lokahi Pacific and Goodfellow Bros., an additional #MauiStrong grant transformed the student designs into a 1,000-foot mesh barrier fence installed along a perimeter of the Lahaina burn zone.
“We believe this artwork installation will serve as a symbol of resilience, unity, and the promise of a brighter future amidst challenging times while simultaneously safeguarding individuals from the elements and potential hazards of the burn zone,” shares McHugh-White. “Students are actively contributing to their community by creating meaningful artwork that is displayed prominently, fostering a sense of pride and ownership. Further, the barrier fence will become a reminder for visitors of the area to act with respect as our community grieves and heals, further enriching their experience on the island.”
To date, students of Lahaina Intermediate School, Baldwin High School, Pōmaikaʻi Elementary School, ʻĪao Intermediate School and Maui Waena have participated.
To learn more, visit mauipublicart.org/mauistrong