The walls are speaking at the Hui No'eau Visual Arts Center. And if viewers listen long enough, they will experience the sounds of crashing waves, the rustling of leaves on tall trees stretching to the sky, calls to social change, cheers for healthy living, pleas for political and social change, and other discussions.
It's all part of the exhibition "The Politics of Paper / Many Stories, Many Voices," a show that includes work from accomplished artists Orlando Reyes and Favianna Rodriguez, who each specialize in expressing messages through a variety of artistic mediums. The installation equally cele-
brates the work of their students and participants during the Hui's artist-in-residence program courses.
Over the summer, more than 30 teens and adults spent time with Reyes and Rodriguez in classes covering experimental printmaking and street graphics, a mural-arts intensive, linoleum cut printmaking, Flemish oil painting and one-on-one art review sessions. In a jointly developed monthlong program, Reyes and Rodriguez presented a case study about using the visual arts as a catalyst for social change.
And the show's messages span the spectrum: Whether it's the first thought that comes to mind in the morning, to the multifaceted concept of unity, to a commentary on the state of our nation, they are each treated as important and can be conveyed in healthy ways through art.
The importance of identity and expression became a foundation for how Reyes instructed his students during the mural project.
"Murals are a big way to be able to achieve a lot of messages in a cohesive piece," he said. "I want to do more of those projects that empower students to say that I have a voice."
Reyes, founding director of Jersey City, N.J.,-based 58 Gallery and a painter, curator and arts entrepreneur, has visited Maui multiple times. He said that he feels a connection with the island culture because his parents are from Puerto Rico and he has lived with them during the summers.
"Before I came came (to Hawaii), I knew there's a strong cultural identity here," he said. "I come from a Puerto Rican identity where a lot of that culture may have been lost over time."
During a visit to Hana this week, he said via telephone that his time on Maui is "bringing me back to the childlike kind of feeling in real simple terms, like waves, sky."
Those basic, yet multileveled, ideas are brought to life with his paintings at the Hui such as "Ula Ahi (Red Fire);" "Lokahi (Harmony Agreement);" "Wa'a (Water);" "Hoku (Stars);" "Maile (Calm);" "Kai (Shoreline)"; "Nalu (Wave);" and "Limu (Seagrass)."
"You can talk on such a complex level with such simple words and so the paintings are the same things . . . You experience it on your level. Nothing's better than your imagination."
Reyes aims to continue his cultivation of healthy artistic outlets for teens and adults. He said he is working with community members on possible future Maui projects that would allow residents to express their identities through art.
"I think it's something that's innate in all of us," said Reyes when discussing creativity. "And the good thing in being young is that you can still express it. As you get older, you start to create all these obstacles. But (creativity) is not formal and academic. It's something you can just feel."
Rodriguez, a Oakland, Calif.,-based artist, author and entrepreneur, left Maui recently and could not be reached for comment.
For more on the artists and "The Politics of Paper / Many Stories, Many Voices" exhibition, visit www.huinoeau.com. The show is open at the center, 2841 Baldwin Ave., Makawao, through Sept. 16 during gallery hours, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday to Saturday.
* Reach Kehaulani Cerizo at firstname.lastname@example.org.