Moving forward with creativity


Widespread creativity was a rare silver lining of this past pandemic year. From painting to baking bread, from sewing masks to producing TikTok videos, people worldwide turned to creative pursuits. Many found they had untapped talent. Whether you’re a high school senior looking forward to college or a lifelong learner, we have a variety of ways here at UH-Maui College to keep those creative juices flowing.

Our newest degree program has the word “creative” right in its name. And, if you’ve ever watched the credits roll after a movie or TV show and thought, “I’d like to see my name up there one day,” The Academy for Creative Media Maui could be your ticket. The program coordinator is award-winning filmmaker Brian Kohne, whose name does, indeed, appear in the credits of the movies “Get a Job” and “Kuleana.”

Kohne always wanted to make movies but had to leave Maui to do it.

“There was no industry here in the ’80s,” he said. “When I returned 15 years ago, it was with the intention to create infrastructure and industry so that our island creatives don’t have to leave if they don’t want to.”

That’s exactly what we’ve done. There are four degrees and four certificates available.

“For the first time ever, Maui creatives can get a B.A. in Creative Media by seamlessly continuing on in the UH-West O’ahu program. And it can be achieved completely online,” added Kohne. “Another of our initiatives this fall is to expand services for outlying areas including Moloka’i and Lana’i by offering most of our entry-level courses online.

“Maui County has seen more video and film production in the last six months than ever before,” Kohne continued. “O’ahu is exploding with production. Our students attain real world skills that can be put into service in our community overnight. And then they can work anywhere in the world.”

As a matter of fact, some of our students are working on a couple of Hallmark TV movies being shot on Maui right now.

If your dream is a Na Hoku Hanohano Award — or maybe even a Grammy! — our Institute for Hawaiian Music could be the place for you. The program has won two Na Hoku awards — for Hawaiian Album of the Year in 2016 and for Hawaiian EP in 2019. If you simply want to improve performing Hawaiian music so you can sing and play with ‘ohana and friends, IHM is for you, too.

The new centerpiece of this innovative program is a state-of-the-art studio named ‘Apo Leo (“to catch the voice”).

“It’s a control room/classroom/ studio and has a separate talent room,” explained Keola Donaghy, assistant professor of music and faculty coordinator for Institute of Hawaiian Music and Music Studies.

“It’s actually a building within a building, ‘floating’ in the middle of the Ka’a’ike building.”

Personal outreach to Moloka’i is a focus of IHM, as well.

“As part of our Title III (U.S. Department of Education) grant we were able to travel there and recruit 13 students,” said Donaghy. “In May, we’ll release a Moloka’i CD comprised mostly of original songs. We’ll also be releasing two music videos and an EP before the end of this year.”

Applied Hawaiian music classes are open to IHM certificate and non-IHM students, and they are free.

“The class is part of the Hawaiian ensemble,” explained Donaghy.

In addition to teaching the songs and instruments, it improves Hawaiian language skills, too.

One of 2020’s unsung heroines is our Fashion Technology Program Coordinator Cheryl Maeda. She and a group of friends have made more than 2,000 cloth masks, and they’re still sewing and donating them throughout the community.

“Our industry has been very busy,” said Maeda. “We have students working in fabric stores and sewing for bag and clothing manufacturers and designing fabrics for their own lines.

“When the restaurants and visitor events closed, some of those furloughed or laid-off employees who had some basic skills registered for our program to explore opening their own small fashion businesses,” Maeda said. “The independence and flexibility of a cottage sewing business is a great way for moms to work at home while managing the family. When you learn how to operate a sewing machine, your skill and creative product ideas can be realized into a successful business.”

Take Alma Hieda, for example.

“She grew up loving to sew but didn’t have formal training until she registered in our Fashion Technology program about 15 years ago,” Maeda said. “She is still — in her 70s — taking one class a semester to keep learning new things and supplement her income. Now, she does alterations, sews clothes and masks from vintage Hawaiian prints for a Pa’ia boutique, and dog clothes for graduate Kyong Kim’s Aloha Maui Gifts.”

If you have grander goals, the program can help you achieve them, too. Like grads Anna Kahalekulu who owns Kulua, a boutique in Makawao; Patti Pottorff who owns Biasa Rose in Pa’ia; Hayley Kaysing of Hayhay Couture whose swimsuits have appeared in the Sports Illustrated swimsuit edition; and Koa Johnson, a ’90s grad who has his own couture line @designerkojo (on Instagram).

If you’ve taken a walk or a drive through Wailuku town in the last year, you’ve undoubtedly noticed the extraordinary murals and street art. They’re part of a wonderful program called Small Town Big Art, funded by a National Endowment for the Arts grant. It establishes Wailuku as a public arts district and focuses on its unique sense of place, history and culture. Each installation is led by a professional artist, including our own Visual Arts Program Coordinator Michael Takemoto.

You may also have noticed the big, bright paintings on some of the windows at Queen Ka’ahumanu Center. They’re the work of graduate Malorie Arisumi.

“She came back to school as an adult learner,” said Takemoto, “and now she’s a professional artist.”

Graduate Jonathan Wilson went on to get his Bachelor of Arts degree at UH-Hilo, and he’s now a published illustrator of children’s books.

“Art students really enjoy meeting ‘live,’ “ said Takemoto. “In the fall, we’re offering Ceramics, Digital Photography, Drawing and Printmaking face to face with social distancing, of course. Introduction to the Visual Arts will be online. And keep your eyes open on campus for another mural to take shape in the next months. Tentative location is our Health Center.”

Early registration for fall 2021 opens April 5. To learn more about all the programs offered at UH-Maui College, please visit our new website at https://maui.hawaii.edu/.

* Dr. Lui K. Hokoana is chancellor of the University of Hawaii Maui College. Ka’ana Mana’o, which means “sharing thoughts,” appears on the fourth Saturday of each month. It is prepared with assistance from UH Maui College staff and is intended to provide the community of Maui County information about opportunities available through the college at its Kahului campus and its education centers.


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