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Sheraton Waikiki and Mea Makamae will be sponsoring an "Arting-in-Place" program called Helumoa, He Wahi Pana (A Storied Place), pairing students from various schools throughout O'ahu with well-known local artists (kumu) and combining their creative efforts to produce art pieces that will be displayed throughout the resort. These pieces, which will depict the activities and culture of old Hawai'i, will be created in two phases – over a 48-hour time span that will begin Friday, September 11 and conclude on Sunday, September 13 on-site at the Sheraton Waikiki with the artists and school children, and from Monday, September 14 to Wednesday, September 16, where the artists will put the finishing touches on the art before installation. The pieces are slated to be the focal points of a massive $187 million renovation that has transformed the Sheraton Waikiki with facility upgrades to rooms, pools, public areas, food and beverage outlets and its catering and convention venues.
Participating in Helumoa, He Wahi Pana will be elementary students from Samuel Kamakau Public Charter, high school students from Punahou School, and public high school students who have participated in the Kamehameha "Scholars" summer intensive program at the Honolulu Academy of Arts. The professional artists leading the effort include Meleanna Meyer, Carl Pao, Harinani Orme, Solomon Enos, Al Lagunero, and Kumu kako'o Alana Tiyau and Malia Andrus.
Helumoa, He Wahi Pana will offer students and teachers a unique opportunity to participate in a creative process of discovery and collaboration, and will be the first effort of its kind on O'ahu. Working on-site within a finite period of time will challenge the resourcefulness and creativity of all participants. The results are not predictable – but rather organic and natural, coming from opportunity, serendipity, inspiration, na'au (intuition) and akua (God). The collaborative piece will feature Helumoa with a focus on the coconut grove as it was known in traditional times, the surrounding Waikiki landscape at early morning and sunset, the mythology of the area, and aspects of the niu (coconut palm) as a tree of life. Working together and inspired by their surroundings and each other, the students and kumu will produce the piece – a 70' by 7' display that will be installed at the escalator leading up to the International Conference Center of the Pacific on the second floor of the Sheraton Waikiki.
Sheraton Waikiki stands on a historically-rich area called Helumoa, which was so named when a giant rooster named Ka'auhelemoa was said to have scratched the ground at the feet of King Kakuhihewa in the 16th century. Kakuhihewa, taking this to be a sign from the gods, planted 10,000 coconut trees in honor of the occurrence, and many of these trees' descendants still survive to this day.
"We are very proud of the Sheraton Waikiki's connection to Helumoa and all of its rich history, and to have this opportunity to bring together local kids with local artists to form an artistic partnership that inspires creativity in the students and artists is an extreme honor," said Sheraton Waikiki General Manager Kelly Sanders. Sanders continued, "We are very excited to feature such exceptional and unique works of art at our resort that bring elements of Hawaii's rich cultural history to the modern day through art."
After the students have completed their involvement with the project on September 13, the kumu will remain on-site at Sheraton Waikiki to put finishing touches on the art before installation. In addition, they will begin work on 33 other one-of-a-kind pieces that will be displayed in various areas of the hotel. The art will consist of two and three-dimensional pieces showcasing Hawaiian art and elements of life that were important to the Hawaiians and will range from authentic kahili and ipu to painted works relating to kai (ocean) and loi (taro patches). One of the additional works will be a spectacular four panel piece that draws its inspiration from ahupua'a, the ancient land system that stretched from the sea to the mountains that sustained the Hawaiians.
The art pieces will be installed at the Sheraton Waikiki by September 30 with a dedication ceremony scheduled for early October. The public is welcome to view the pieces and tours of the artwork will be given twice daily, once in English and once in Japanese.
Mea Makamae, A Hawaii Treasure, promotes Hawaiian cultural arts and traditions by working with local artists and kumu to educate the public and raise awareness about our island's heritage.