“Na Kalai Ola” at Innovations Charter School

October 31, 2017
Mixed media sculpture by Stuart Nakamura
Mixed media sculpture at Innovations Public Charter School
Na Kalai Ola at Innovations Public Charter School

Nā Kālai Ola (Life Voyagers), a mixed-media sculpture installation by Stuart Nakamura, was dedicated at Innovations Public Charter School in Kailua-Kona (Hawaiʻi Island) on October 2, 2017. For this Art in Public Places – Artists in Residence Program project, the artist, Stuart Nakamura, was selected by an Art Advisory Committee, who also assisted with the selection of a location, the medium and theme of the work of art, and review of the design proposals. Innovations Public Charter School students and community members participated as part of the educational component, designed to include student and teacher participation in the conceptualization, design, construction, and installation of the commissioned work of art at the school.

In his remarks at the ceremony, addressing the students and other dedication ceremony attendees, Nakamura said “Nā Kālai Ola (Life Voyagers) is about how we can prepare ourselves to achieve our goals in life. “Where are you going, my child?” the artwork asks. From childhood to adulthood we make adjustments to the course we take as we learn to navigate our way to our dreams on distant horizons. This process for many of us starts at home and at school where we learn skills in life, reading, math, science, and the arts. For the navigators of Hawaiian voyaging canoes, like the Makaliʻi, this process begins with years of learning the placement of the stars, the flight pattern of seabirds, the look and feel of the ocean swells, and the appearance of clouds to guide them safely to their destination. We are all navigating our ways to our goals, and we first start by knowing where we are. And where we are, this site, was chosen for its view of the mountain, and the sea, which I thought would embody the spirit of Hawaiʻi Nei, as well as tying together the upper and lower campuses. I started this three-year journey alone, to complete the project, and involved many others along the way. This included the school’s art committee, the state art program managers, a structural engineer, Nā Kālai Waʻa, a laser cutter, welder, concrete contractor, shipping firm, crane operator, stone fabricators, a foundry, a kumu and a kahu, the school staff and administration and friends…I had lots of support and even more after doing the educational component with the students. I learned a lot, and made corrections in my navigation along the way to get to this point in my journey. I wish all of you success in your life voyages. The artwork belongs to all of you. Mahalo.”

Stuart Nakamura was raised in Kalihi and Kāneʻohe on Oʻahu. He received a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from the California College of the Arts in 1976.

Chadd Paishon, Executive Director of Nā Kālai Waʻa, also gave remarks at the ceremony. “For those of us who have the opportunity to stand on the deck of [voyaging canoe Makaliʻi], if not for a young man, and his art; for being able to create, to be able to give everyone a picture, a scene, of what our culture, what our traditions look like; if not for that artist, I think many like myself would have never have gotten an idea of what we could be. So to uncle Herb Kāne, mahalo nui.”

In 1969, Albert Preis, the first Executive Director of the SFCA, purchased 14 of Herb Kāne’s paintings of canoes of Hawaiʻi and Polynesia for the Art in Public Places Collection; a purchase which Kane says made it possible for him to move back to Hawaiʻi and found the Polynesian Voyaging Society with Ben Finney.

Thank you to the Art Advisory Committee: Jennifer Hiro, chair; Sara Chang; Pam Hart, Ramsey Havanio; Ira Yamagata; Sherman Warner.

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