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 in front of a building near First Hawaiian Bank on Market Street on Monday, August 22 at 4:30 p.m.
The “Wailuku Ho’okele/Wailuku Wayfinders” triptych mural has panels more than seven feet tall and three feet wide, each recessed into a wooden wall.
This is part of the community art project promoted by Small Town*Big Art.
Each of the three panels contains an imaginary constellation that acknowledges oneness with the universe through Hawaiian constellations, including the bony-backed lizard Iwikuamoʻo, with the star Hōkūleʻa glowing orange-red; Ka Lupe o Kawelo or the stinging ray; and Ka Makau Nui o Māui – Maui’s Fishing Hook with Maui.
Ushiro said he was inspired to create the paintings after listening to and consulting oral histories from Wailuku residents with references to the constellation and the ocean and the migration of peoples.
“Community engagement offered a multi-angle approach to how the meaning of the mural can help preserve history and oral traditions,” Ushiro said. “After this experience, I see how those engagements allowed me to visually connect the aligning stars to tell the story of how we got here.”
Kepā Maly, one of the storytellers, said that even though the appearance of the land is changing, there is still something that draws you to this place — the sights and views you see in the distance.
One of them is the Hawaiian stars in the sky.
“We can call them intangible, but to those who grew up in the 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 his work around the narrative tradition of the “talking story” originating in Hawaii, he interweaves the quirky obake narratives of his Japanese heritage.
After receiving a BA 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 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 with editions by Zero+ Publishing in the United States and Diagon Alley in China. In recent years, he has participated in several POW! AH! 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 creative collaboration of Maui County Placemakers, Hale Hōʻikeʻike at Bailey House, the Maui Historical Society, and the Maui Community Art Corps , working to develop an arts district that celebrates Wailuku’s distinctive sense of place, history and culture.
Professional artists are paired with community consultants to co-create visual, performance and art installations that align with ‘ōlelo from Mary Kawena Pukui’s ‘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.