Our Islands, Our Future

Viewpoints Art Gallery in Makawao, one of the finest art galleries in the state, is also driven by a keen sense of community. Gallery Director Oliver Perez and Art Director Joelle Perez provide a space and a nurturing spirit that celebrates the rich culture of Hawaii. As part of an on-going program started by Joelle and sponsored by Viewpoints, called the ‘Reaching Out Project’, her most recent idea was to work with children’s designs to create a mural. The question became, how to bring this idea to fruition.

“I reached out to my friend Mary Anna Grimes, the Maui educator for Papahana Kuaola, an aloha-`aina-based education organization connecting Hawaii’s past with a sustainable future,” Joelle explained. “She and I reached out to Waihe`e School’s principal, Paula Inouye, the 4th grade teachers and students to share information about wetlands, watersheds, and the formation of the Hawaiian Islands. Because of its location, much emphasis was placed on the Waihe`e Ahupua`a, which was the perfect soil for our idea to grow. We wanted the children to focus on the ahupua`a system from the mountain to the sea, and practice the concepts of sustainability and self-sufficiency.”

Grimes noted, “Joelle envisioned the children’s artistic spontaneity by enlarging their smaller drawing of their understanding of each section of the ahupua`a system—uka, kula, kai. I gave a Papahana Kuaola presentation on the ahupua`a system to the entire 4th grade, and Joelle gave introductory painting lessons. Teachers continued to highlight main concepts of self-sufficiency throughout the year, and the students created drawings in the spring semester of a certain element of their choice.”

Joelle and Grimes agreed that the project has been an amazing experience that the students thoroughly enjoyed and learned from. “We were able to use the eighty-eight student drawings to prepare twenty 18×24-inch wood panels that will result in a comprehensive mural depicting a Hawaiian ahupua`a,” Joelle said. “These completed panels will be displayed on a lobby wall in the new administration building presently being constructed at Waihe`e School, as a testament to the students’ inspiration and collaboration.”

We would like to thank Viewpoints Art Gallery for sponsoring projects that provide a space and a nurturing spirit that celebrates the rich culture of Hawaii. Joelle Perez, Viewpoints Art Director, Mary Anna Grimes, Papahana Kuaola Educator