“Creating Kama‘āina” and “Ho‘o Pōhaku” at Keahuolū Kona Judiciary Complex

October 31, 2019
View of both artworks.

“Creating Kama‘āina” and “Ho‘o Pōhaku” at Keahuolū Kona Judiciary Complex

“Creating Kama‘āina”, a stainless steel sculpture by Matthew Salenger, and “Ho‘o Pōhaku”, stone sculptures by Jerry Vasconcellos, have been dedicated at the Keahuolū Kona Judiciary Complex (North Kona, Hawai‘i Island).

About the Artworks

People standing in front of the "Creating Kamaaina" sculpture.
“Creating Kamaʻaina”, Matt Salenger, stainless steel, 2018. Art in Public Places Collection of the State Foundation on Culture and the Arts. Left to right: Jonathan Johnson, Executive Director of the State Foundation on Culture and the Arts; artist Matt Salenger; Curt Otaguro, Comptroller, State of Hawaiʻi Department of Accounting and General Services; and Karen Ewald, Art in Public Places Program Director.

“Creating Kama‘āina” by Matt Salenger explores our connection to place. In traditional Hawaiian culture, when a child is born, the parents would carve a small crater into the ground and place the child’s umbilical cord into the hole as a way of connecting the child to the land. The term Kama‘āina literally means “child of the land,” speaking to the deep connection between people and place. The Hawaiian word for umbilical cord, piko, is also used for the navel.

View of both artworks
Foreground: “Ho‘o Pōhaku”, stone sculptures by Jerry Vasconcellos, 2018. Art in Public Places Collection of the State Foundation on Culture and the Arts. Background: “Creating Kamaʻaina”, Matt Salenger, stainless steel, 2018. Art in Public Places Collection of the State Foundation on Culture and the Arts.

“Ho‘o Pōhaku” by Jerry Vasconcellos is an affirmation to stand firm in the light of our truths, using stone from Kailua-Kona’s beloved Hualālai.

About the Artists

Matthew Salenger

Matthew Salenger is an artist, architect, and co-founder/managing partner of coLAB studio. He was raised on Maui, finished his education in Britain, and has (mostly) lived in Arizona since 1993. Matthew studied figure drawing and painting for 10 years, and graduated with honors from the Architectural Association of London in 1999. He co-founded coLAB studio after graduating, and has since constructed many stimulating environments in both architecture and public art.

Jerry Vasconcellos

Jerry Vasconcellos’ art is an expression of the relationships between life cycles, natural materials and place. A self-taught instinctual carver by nature, Vasconcellos’ earlier inspiration came from noted artists Isamu Noguchi, Henry Moore, Constantin Brancusi, Jean Arp, and many Pacific Island artists who have connected spiritual and temporal life in their work. His creative process is anchored to his family’s historic residence, the ‘Wailele Artist Colony’ in Kalihi Valley, O‘ahu. With over 50 years of experience Vasconcellos is an apprentice of sculptor Rocky Jensen, a member of Hale Naua III and currently an active member of Maoli Arts Alliance. He has served on the boards of Hui Mālama O Ke Kai and Puakea Foundation.

About the Art Advisory Committee

The Art Advisory Committee for this work of art was Ronald Ibarra (Chair), Lester Oshiro, Dawn West, Joanne Krippaehne, Jo Anna Sokolow, Dale Suezaki, Jane Clement, Mike Ikeda, Elizabeth Jewell, Paul Kealoha, Hiroki Morinoue, and David Bylund. The role of the Art Advisory Committee is to make recommendations to the SFCA regarding the development and design of a given art project, including location, medium, distinguishing features of the artwork, and selection of the artist. The SFCA appoints members of the Art Advisory Committee from users of the facility and representatives from the community in which the facility is located. The committee chairperson is a representative of the state department, division or agency to which that state building or space is assigned. Others from the committee who serve as a resource or advisory member may include some or all of the following: the project architect, representatives of the state comptroller, representatives of state departments that are responsible for the construction or renovation, representatives of the APP Program, and as appropriate, SFCA-appointed artists or technical experts. The SFCA determines the method in which the art project should be commissioned.

About the Location

The opening of the new Keahuolū Courthouse (Hawai‘i State Judiciary, Third Circuit) represents a significant milestone in improving access to justice for West Hawai‘i residents. The name of the 140,000-square-foot complex honors the ahupua‘a (land division) in which this judiciary complex is located. The name incorporates both Hawaiian and English languages as a way of identifying the function and the purpose of the building as well as preserving the mana ingrained within the name of the ahupua‘a.


The sculpture was funded through the Art in Public Places Program of the SFCA, which receives one percent of the construction and renovation costs for state buildings to integrate art into the built environment of Hawai‘i.

About the Art in Public Places Program

The Art in Public Places Program (APP Program) was created to strengthen the Hawai‘i State Foundation on Culture and the Arts’ capability to stimulate, guide and promote culture and the arts through the field of the visual arts. The APP Program seeks to: enhance the environmental quality of state public buildings and spaces throughout the state for the enjoyment and enrichment of the public; cultivate the public’s awareness, understanding and appreciation of visual arts in all media, styles and techniques; contribute toward the development and recognition of a professional artistic community; and acquire, interpret, preserve and display works of art expressive of the character of the Hawaiian Islands, the multicultural heritage of its people, and the various creative interests of its artists. Artwork in the Art in Public Places Collection can be viewed online in the Art in Public Places online catalog as well as the Public Art Archive (www.publicartarchive.org).

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