UH Hilo art professor and students help paint mural at Hilo Farmers Market

The colorful work depicting fruits and other produce of Hawai‘i Island is designed by local artist Kristie Fujiyama Kosmides.

By Susan Enright

Three people stand for photo in front of colorful mural.
From left, Tyler Waltjen, Prof. Michael Marshall, and Lillian Lewis at the new mural, Hilo Farmers Market, April 11, 2021. Photos taken at the mural by Tracey Niimi.
Michael Marshall
Michael Marshall

An art professor and three of students from University of Hawai‘i at Hilo helped paint a new wall mural Sunday at the Hilo Farmers Market on Mamo Street. The colorful work depicting fruits and other produce of Hawai‘i Island is designed by local artist Kristie Fujiyama Kosmides.

Professor of Art Michael Marshall and art students Tyler Waltjen (business major), Lillian Lewis (biology major), and Kapuakea Isaak (art major) were invited to assist with the painting.

“I wanted to participate in the mural project because I believe volunteering for and being a part of our community is very important, as well as it being a cool opportunity to meet the artists involved,” says Isaak, who is a layout designer for UH Hilo’s Kanilehua Art and Literary Magazine and a photographer/videographer for University Relations.

“I was surprised when we were told we could paint any fruit that we wanted,” she says. “I had been thinking that we would show up and be assigned certain parts, kind of like a paint by numbers. It was really neat that they allowed us to have creative freedom.”

Lillian Lewis
Lillian Lewis
Kapuakea Isaak
Kapuakea Isaak

She adds, “It was an awesome lil’ break from all the projects I’ve been having to create for school and allowed me to just have fun with my art again, no deadline, no pressure, no grading. Such an awesome opportunity and I’m glad I got to help out.”

Lewis is a biology major with an emphasis in ecology. She says the most fun and memorable part about participating was being surrounded by such creative and inspiring people.

“Kristie involved artists that were of all different ages, and it was a really cool experience to work alongside young artists, fellow college students, Professor Marshall, and other artists of Hilo, all collaborating to make something for the community,” she says.

She, too, was surprised that each student was given the freedom to sketch out an idea and paint a fruit of their choice. And she loved helping out. “I was happy to help, and excited for the opportunity to make some art! I was also excited to learn about the process of organizing and creating a mural.”

Professor Marshall also was impressed with the talent involved in organizing and completing a wall mural. “For me personally, the very most interesting part of the afternoon was meeting local boy Kai‘ili Kaulukukui who provided technical oversight for the mural project.”

Sponsors of the 130-foot by 30-foot mural are Big Island Toyota, Toyota Hawai‘i, and Temple Children, an arts organization based in Hilo. The work is being installed on the wall of the building that backs the market, owned by local businessmen Reuben Villanueva and Hank Correa.

Tracey Niimi, a student support specialist with the UH Hilo pharmacy college who also runs his own photography business, was onsite Sunday helping the sponsors document Kosmides as the mural comes up from beginning to completion. While there, he photographed the UH Hilo contributors.

Three people stand for photo in front of colorful mural.
UH Hilo Professor of Art Michael Marshall (center) stands with his students Tyler Waltjen (left) and Lillian Lewis (right) in front of the new mural painted at the Hilo Farmers Market on Mamo Street, April 11, 2021. Missing is art student Kapuakea Isaak, who helped paint earlier in the day. Photos taken at the mural by Tracey Niimi.

 

Story by Susan Enright, a public information specialist for the Office of the Chancellor and editor of UH Hilo Stories. She received her bachelor of arts in English and certificate in women’s studies from UH Hilo.