Artist Edwin Ushiro plans to unveil a three-panel mural commissioned by a Maui nonprofit to capture the history and culture of the town of Wailuku.
The unveiling of three large paintings will take place outside a building near the First Hawaiian Bank on Market Street on Monday, August 22 at 4:30 p.m.
The mural triptych, “Wailuku Ho’okele/Wailuku Wayfinders,” has panels more than seven feet tall and three feet wide, each set into a wooden wall.
It is part of the public works project promoted by Small Town*Big Art.
Each of the three panels contains an imagined constellation that recognizes oneness with the universe through the Hawaiian constellations, including the bone lizard of Iwikuamoʻo, with the star Hōkūleʻa glowing orange-red; Ka Lupe or Kawelo or the lightning; and Ka Makau Nui or Māui – Maui’s Fish Hook with Maui.
Ushiro said he was inspired to create the paintings after listening to and consulting with oral histories from Wailuku residents with references to the constellation and the ocean and the migration of the peoples.
“Community participation provided access from many angles to how the importance of a mural can help preserve oral history and traditions,” Ushiro said. “After this experience, I can see how these engagements allowed me to visually connect the stars aligned to tell the story of how we got here.”
Kepā Maly, one of the narrators, said that although the appearance of the land changes, there is still something that draws you to this place: the touchstones and the views you see in the distance.
One of them is the Hawaiian stars in the sky.
“We might call them intangibles, but to those who grew up in a place, those intangibles are as tangible as the physical remains.”
Edwin Ushiro’s work resonates with the echoes of his childhood in the “slow town” of Wailuku, Maui. While structuring her work around the narrative tradition of the native Hawaiian Islands “talking story,” she interweaves the strange obake tales of her Japanese heritage.
After earning a BFA with honors in Illustration from the Art Center College of Design, he worked in the entertainment industry as a storyboard artist, concept designer, and visual consultant.
Most recently, he has exhibited at venues around the world including Villa Bottini in Italy, Grand Palais in France, the Kyoto Museum, HoMA and the Japanese-American National Museum in Los Angeles.
A monograph of his work entitled “Edwin Ushiro: Gathering Whispers” was published in 2014 with editions by Zero+ Publishing in the United States and Diagon Alley in China. In recent years, he has participated in several POW! WOW! mural festivals in Honolulu and Long Beach, as well as the Windows of Little Tokyo public art festival in Los Angeles. Lives and works between Los Angeles and Maui.
Developed through a 2018 Our Town grant from the National Endowment for the Arts, Small Town * Big Art is a creative placemaking collaboration of Maui County, Hale Hōʻikeʻike at the Bailey House, the Maui Historical Society and the Maui Public Art Corps working to develop an arts district that celebrates Wailuku’s distinctive sense of place, history and culture.
Professional artists pair with community consultants to co-create visual, performance, and experiential art installations that align with “ōlelo” from Mary Kawena Pukui’s “Ōlelo No’eau: Hawaiian Proverbs and Poetical Sayings.”
Through many hands and many voices, these creative interpretations represent a revitalized identity for Wailuku.
For a list of upcoming events, concerts, shows and entertainment from August 18-24, find our full list here.