Artist Edwin Ushiro plans to unveil a three-panel mural commissioned by a Maui nonprofit to capture the history and culture of Wailuku Town.
The unveiling of the 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 triptych mural, “Wailuku Ho’okele/Wailuku Wayfinders,” has panels more than seven feet tall and three feet wide, each recessed into a wooden wall.
It is part of the public artwork project promoted by Small Town*Big Art.
Each of the three panels features an imagined constellation that acknowledges oneness with the universe through the Hawaiian constellations, including the bony back lizard Iwikuamoʻo, with the star Hōkūleʻa glowing orange-red; There is Lupe o Kawelo or stinging ray; and Ka Makau Nui o Māui – Maui’s Fish Hook with Maui.
Ushiro said he was inspired to create the paintings after hearing and consulting oral histories from Wailuku residents with references to constellations and the ocean and the migration of peoples.
“Community engagement provided a multi-faceted approach to how the importance of a mural can help preserve oral history and traditions,” Ushiro said. “After that experience, I can see how these engagements allowed me to visually align the stars to tell the story of how we got here.”
Kepā Maly, one of the storytellers, said even though the landscape changes, there is still something that draws you to this place – touchstones and sights you see in the distance.
One of them is the Hawaiian stars in the sky.
“We may call them intangibles, but to those who have grown up in a place, these intangibles are as tangible as physical remains.”
Edwin Ushiro’s work resonates with echoes of his childhood in the “slow town” of Wailuku, Maui. While structuring his work around the narrative tradition of native Hawaiian “talk-telling,” he interweaves the quirky obaka stories of his 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 story artist, concept designer, and visual consultant.
Recently, he has exhibited at venues around the world, including the Villa Bottini in Italy, the 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 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, and the Windows of Little Tokyo public art festival in Los Angeles. He 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 local creative collaboration of Maui County, Hale Hōʻikeʻike at Bailey House, the Maui Historical Society, and the Maui Public Art Corps that works to develop an arts district that celebrates Wailuku’s distinct sense of place, history and culture.
Professional artists pair with community consultants to co-create visual, performative, and experiential art installations that match Mary Kawena Pukui’s ‘ōlelo from ‘Ōlelo No’eau: Hawaiian Proverbs and Poetic 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 comprehensive listing here.