In preparation for the upcoming Mālama Wao Akua native species art exhibition presented by East Maui Watershed Restoration Partnership at the Hui No‘eau Visual Arts Center, sixteen Maui artists joined The Merwin Conservancy staff in the palm forest for visits and inspiration among the native palms.
The group was introduced to W.S. Merwin’s story and select poems were read loud to set the tone of the morning. Then, as the time in the forest began, the artists were given background information about the Pritchardia genus, and special time was spent observing and photographing the species native to Maui Nui (a requirement of the exhibition):
- Pritchardia hillebrandii (aka Loulu Lelo) – native to the northern coast of Moloka’i extremely rare
- Pritchardia lowreyana (aka Lowrey’s Loulu) – This one is native to Molokai’i and recently rediscovered on O’ahu.
- Pritchardia glabrata (aka the Smooth Loulu) – the smallest of the Pritchardia and is native to Lanai and Maui. It is listed as endangered by the IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature).
- Pritchardia munroi (aka Munro’s Loulu) – native to Maui and Molokai’i, and is considered the rarest of the Pritchardia. It was long thought to be extinct, until in 1973, the late Earl Bishop rediscovered it above Kamalo, on Molokai.
The artists were immersed in native palm knowledge, and got to experience them in the unique context of The Merwin Conservancy, which gave way to lively conversation and sparks of inspiration. Many artists took notes and photographs to help inform their art-making process, which would then take place after this visit, when back in their studios.
The artists are now preparing their works for submission at Receiving Day, which is on August 30th.
The exhibition will open on September 15th with an opening reception at 5pm. The exhibit will remain up through November 7th, and will feature various educational events throughout.
To learn more about Mālama Wao Akua, visit the official exhibit website at www.malamawaoakua.org