The core philosophy in the design of Special Projects is to achieve a process and product that is transformational. The longer duration and intensity of the projects allow for a greater degree of mentoring and collaboration.
Former Hawaii artist, Eva Enriquez spearheaded a summer social justice mural project through a partnership with the San Francisco-based nonprofit, Root Division. Eva and another local artist worked with four high school students. Afterschool Art’s President & CEO, Dr. Bob Grossmann collaborated with the group via video teleconference to explore the key underpinnings of social justice and issues important to the students. The group focused on gun violence and the need to re-humanize the victims and their communities and discussed ways to peacefully reduce conflict. The group visited and studied on-line murals in the San Francisco area before embarking on 14 hour of studio time to complete the diptych. The mural depicts a transformation as the viewer moves from a socially-disrupted panel on the left to a more peaceful community on the right.
All these pieces came together during a mural project at the Kalihi Community Center undertaken by local artist Solomon Enos and a group of students and staff from Hale Kipa. The design and painting of the Hawaiian deity, Haumea took place over two Saturdays. Mr. Enos challenged the youth to engage life with purpose.
“With the goal in mind to design an image that highlighted positive values, I asked them what kind of images would suggest a comfortable safe place for them. The students answered a nature scene, the mountains, or a sunset. Most of them are Hawaiian and feel empowered and proud to express their own culture and use Hawaiian aesthetic elements in the composition.
Over four months I had many students, boys and girls, that contributed with their enthusiasm and enjoyment to the different stages of the project. Among all of them, there was a Hawaiian boy from Waianae who transformed from a quiet student to a role model. He gave me the greater gift a teacher can receive: he became a teacher to other kids in the facility inside and outside the classroom.
With his example, I realized how these ‘at-risk youth’ have so much potential to transformed and become leaders for other youth in the community. These students come into the class in a survival mode and art opens up their interest to learn something again by direct experience. They become confident and find self-worth. And I feel very lucky to witness that.” — Eva Enriquez
This special screenprinting project took place at Punahou School and at the Honolulu Printmakers’ studio (at the Honolulu Museum of Art School). Recent UH Manoa graduates worked with PUEO (Partnerships in Unlimited Educational Opportunities) Program students to think critically about what they find important to them in their local environment and society, and to then create imagery based on these issues/causes.