Art draws upon Wailuku interviews


Anu Yagi. PC: Sean M. Hower (2022) / Small Town * Big Art

Inspired by Maui resident’s’ recollections of historic Wailuku, Sachelle Dae has created three paintings and storyteller Anu Yagi, a performance — works crystallizing their vision of a people and town serving a vital role in the economic and cultural development of Maui.

The artistic works help to bring a new appreciation to the historical significance of Wailuku. As a rich resource of water, the area one grew an abundance of taro, later developed into a major sugar plantation, and still serves as the government capital of the Valley Isle. The works reflect personal memories of people captured within a changing landscape.

“I’ve been energized and touched by the memories and knowledge that’s been shared with me, and I hope to create a reflection of woven images that we can all relate to and see ourselves as part of,” Dae said.

The process of selecting artists to create works, based on listening to a collection of oral histories, arose out of the project Small Town*Big Heart, a group that recorded interviews of residents. The project grew into Small Town*Big Art and was made possible by a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts.

Other supporters include the County of Maui, Hale Hōʻikeʻike at the Bailey House / Maui Historical Society; the newly formed Maui Public Art Corps; Roselle Bailey, Kumu Hula, KaʻImi Naʻauao O Hawaiʻi Nei Institute; Kalapana Kollars, Hawaiian Cultural Programs Director, Lahaina Restoration Foundation; and Wallette Pellegrino, host of “Preserving Our Recollections.”

Roselle Bailey. PC: Sean M. Hower (2022) / Small Town * Big Art
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The latest unveiling of Yagi and Dae’s works earlier this month was the 24th public art project to celebrate the distinctive sense of place, history and culture of Wailuku.

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In preparation for the next Small Town*Big Art call-to-artists, the collective has recently produced 13 additional talk-story audio recordings. Interested artists will be asked to select one or more recordings to create a proposal that brings these stories to life in song, poetry, dance, visual or other artistic discipline.

Upon juror selection, artists are paired with community consultants to further co-develop the work, design community engagement opportunities and present the work of public art. Due to a new grant through the National Endowment for the Arts, artwork may be installed or performed in various neighborhoods throughout Maui County (beyond Wail nuku).

Recordings are available under “2022 HUI MO’OLELO” at smalltownbig.org/talk-story. For more information, go to mauipublicart.org



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