Aloha from Maui

Written by: Hannah Field | News Editor

In August of 2023, wildfires raked the island of Maui, causing unprecedented damage to Maui County and its inhabitants. Homes, businesses, studios, buildings and more were lost to the fires — devastating not only many lives but also countless lifelines for artists, creators, business owners and creative minds. 

Western has since installed an “Aloha from Maui” exhibit in celebration of the artists in Maui, Hawaii, which will be featured through May 3. The exhibit, which can be found in the Cannon Gallery in Campbell Hall, states that, “Through the loss of galleries, studios and art businesses, Maui County artists have persevered. They continue to create and share ways in which art can be healing and bring community together.”

Paula Booth, Western’s Gallery Director and Assistant Professor of Art, led the charge in jurying “Aloha from Maui.” Booth, herself, harbors fond memories of Maui and believes art has the power to heal, leading to the production of “Aloha from Maui.”

The artworks are completely giclee printed reproductions on canvas stretched on a two-inch frame, as, unfortunately, obtaining the artwork of thirty-six different creators crafted, gathered and shipped to Oregon from Maui proved to be difficult. 

The historic town of Lahaina, Maui, was particularly ravaged by the disaster. Featured artist, Laurie Robbins Miller, honored two significant Lahaina landmarks: Front Street and the Banyan Tree — an impactful moment for fourth-year student Tati Ala, having been born and raised in O’ahu, Hawaii.

“When we were first going through and picking out (artwork), I cried at like four of them,” said Ala. “Specific ones that are very meaningful.”

During the fires, Ala was in Hawaii that summer and had been in Maui earlier that year. “I was crying the entire time — we had family and friends there, and I’m very grateful nobody passed away and everyone we know was safe. But there were a lot of people who didn’t have that.”

“This is an important celebration of their work and their livelihoods and it connects what they do to a wider audience,” explained Booth. “This is a very colorful, engaging and fun show — there really is something in it for everyone.”

“It has been really great to have the opportunity,” said Ala. “It’s close to home.”

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