Our blank canvas: a 200 foot long concrete wall. This was once an equally unsightly chain link fence dividing the playground from a busy street. I believe I willed this wall into existence - I've always dreamed of painting a mural here and it manifested!
There was definite progress after the first couple of days. The sky was blocked in over the silhouetted mountains and the beginning layers of the dripped paint was completed by the 1st grade class. They really had some fun with it!
My awesome 8th grade team of assistants and our mascot, Makana!
There are moments in one’s life where you see things come full circle and your path, with all of its crazy unexpected wild rides, appears as a seamless puzzle layered to perfection. I started my career as an artist at home in Lahaina in the comforts of familiar surroundings in a small bubble of protected love, friendship, community and devotion. Teaching at Sacred Hearts School was one of the most profound experiences of my life. It was there I found my confidence as a creator; it was there I was inspired daily by the gorgeous artwork and expression of 250 children whom I dearly loved; it was there my beloved mentor, friend and Hani mother Maryanna Waldrop handed me $500 to buy canvas, paint and brushes leaving me no more excuses to reach for my dreams; and it was also there that I was kicked out of the nest to spread my wings on the East Coast, reaching for the stars at Savannah College of Art and Design.
That was 15 years ago. You don’t realize how far you have traveled until you are standing on the same playground, with the same church bells ringing, echoed by children’s laughter and of course the ever present power of the same Sacred Hearts School powerhouse goddess-worthy women. I began 2012 with this experience - returning home to teach once more, leading 200 students through a lesson of layers to both self-expression and the powerful understanding of true collaboration. Seeing their faces light up as they watched colors blend and drip down the wall was dynamic! I love to take kids out of the ordinary with art – remove the expected tools and limitations, the parameters of the edges of paper. Giving them a 240’ long canvas on which to discover a new dimension of what art can feel like is an experience they will carry through life. It changes their perception and teaches the most powerful lesson of all: It is not what you are seeing but how you are seeing it. It teaches them to see their surroundings with limitless vision and potential. It gives them freedom and that is a gift beyond measure.
What compounded the experience and the sense of time passing was that in addition to teaching this course I was reunited with one of my first students, a star artist of his own right, now a professional photographer John Carpenter. The last time I saw him he was a crazy little kid, creating colorful paintings deep with emotion. Now he’s a man with a beard! Wild indeed! He captured the event beautifully AND jumped right in with the painting – reciting word for word things I had taught him about composition, line, movement, blending – he remembered it all! If you have ever been a teacher you know what this moment feels like, when you see the difference you’ve made. I am so proud of his accomplishments, drive and success.
Many thanks to the amazing students who joined me in inspired collaboration creating a lasting mural memory and to my beloved ohana SHS for all the love over the years. I am honored to be a part of the family.