UH Hilo students create videos and art highlighting clean energy

Students in three courses participated in the projects: Introduction to Rhetoric, Digital Video and Installation, and Business Planning for New Ventures.

By Leah Sherwood.

In the above video by UH Hilo students Robert Corlett and Jonathan Wilson, the East Hawai‘i Cultural Center is featured for their efforts at conserving energy. Interviews include Harry Kim, mayor of Hawai‘i County, and Michael Marshall, the cultural center’s director and art professor at UH Hilo. The video is part of an art course on digital video and installation.

Malia Bryman, Maximilian Abraham and Cody Pacheco.
A team of students in a class on rhetoric produced the video, “Energy Storage” (video posted below). From left, Malia Bryman, Maximilian Abraham (narrator) and Cody Pacheco. Courtesy photo.

Students at the University of Hawai‘i at Hilo have been busy creating videos and artworks highlighting people and organizations in the local community who use clean energy.

Some students created ecologically-themed videos to submit to the Blue Planet Foundation, a local nonprofit promoting renewable energy and sustainability in Hawai‘i, as part of its We Are 100 campaign where the foundation gathered 100 stories from throughout the state that support Hawai‘i’s journey to clean energy. Art students participated in an “video sculpture” exhibit at the campus library, where one of the students took a satirical approach and stitched together some of President Trump’s tweets on the subject. Business students conducted interviews and wrote articles.

Students in three courses last semester participated in the projects: Introduction to Rhetoric (Eng 287), Digital Video and Installation (Art 301), and Business Planning for New Ventures (Mgt 425).

A sampling of the videos

Undergraduate students in two sections of last semester’s course on Introduction to Rhetoric created abstracts, videos and infographics as part of Blue Planet’s We Are 100 campaign. (To learn more about this class, see story: UH Hilo students use the ancient art of rhetoric to promote modern energy policy (April 5, 2019, UH Hilo Stories). One of the teams in the course created an educational video about clean energy options with specific focus on projects happening on the campus of UH Hilo.

Julie Mowrer
Julie Mowrer

The following videos were produced by students in the art course on digital video and installation.

“The creation of the videos gave people in our community the opportunity to share what they were doing and create pride in who we are and what we’re accomplishing in the realm of clean energy,” says Julie Mowrer, acting director of the Center for Community Engagement at UH Hilo. The center supports activity that aligns needs of the community with courses offered at UH Hilo.

Maxine Mjoen, an exchange student from Minnesota State University Moorehead, made a video titled, “Travel and the Environment,” urging young people to consider air travel’s environmental toll.

UH Hilo computer science student Dylan Wentz’s video features his uncle who lives part time in Hawai‘i. Wentz’s uncle admits that despite working for an oil company on the mainland, he decided to invest in solar energy for his home in Hawai‘i, claiming to save at least $100 per month on his electricity bill.

Another video is a narrative about off-grid living on Hawai‘i Island produced by undergraduates Amanda Chiquita and Jessica Loeffler.

“Video sculpture” exhibit

UH Hilo students also exhibited eco-conscious “video sculptures” this past summer in the Edwin H. Mookini Library on the UH Hilo campus, each inspired by climate change and renewable energy. The exhibit, titled, “Upcycled,” featured video installations created by students enrolled in the digital video and installation course.

“The library is an excellent venue for student art, as we see some of the highest traffic on campus,” says Joseph Sanchez, director of the library. “By working together, we can connect student artists with their peers and promote both the arts in general and the UH Hilo Department of Art at the same time.”

Students created their video sculptures using only used or recycled electronic equipment such as discarded monitors and DVD players scavenged from dumpsters and secondhand stores. The video installations built into the sculptures played footage conveying a theme specific to the piece.

In a satirical piece, student Robert Corlett stitched together frames of President Donald Trump’s tweets in his work titled, “Someone’s Got a Screw Loose.”

Jessica Loeffler, UH Hilo undergraduate who grew up in Volcano, Hawai‘i, used video imagery of the 2018 Kīlauea eruption in her piece, “Creation Flows.” In a poem accompanying the exhibit she writes, “Destruction and creation, inspiration in it’s true form, the power to change the earth, exchange from below and the flow above.”

An old computer in red casing on thick black fabric that resembles lava.
Creation Flows, Jessica Loeffler. 2019. Used and recycled media.


Students in the business management class conducted interviews and wrote articles. The students worked on projects they could apply to entrepreneurship and their passion for sustainability., highlighting different entrepreneurs in Hawai‘i.

Achieving renewable energy

Achieving 100 percent renewable energy in Hawai‘i by 2045 would require ending the state’s current heavy dependence on fossil fuels. A 2018 report published by the Hawai‘i State Energy Office shows that in 2015 Hawai‘i spent billions of dollars on imported oil and led the US in its relative use of oil (67.3 percent) and coal (15.1 percent) to meet its electricity needs. The same report identifies the three largest uses of petroleum in Hawai‘i as air travel, ground transport, and electricity.


Story by Leah Sherwood, a graduate student in the tropical conservation biology and environmental science program at UH Hilo. She received her bachelor of science in biology and bachelor of arts in English from Boise State University