Mentoring Micronesian Youth thru Traditional Arts
DAC works with arts guilds and organizations e.g., Hawaii Craftsmen, Handweavers Hui, Watercolor Society, independent curators such as the architects who work in downtown,and the community to offer the island of Oahu and Downtown Chinatown diverse and high caliber exhibits, public programming, and classes.
The islands that make up Micronesia are undergoing fundamental and rapid transformation. As rising seas and climate change are threatening islanders’ homes and very means of existence, many are being forced to seek refuge or relocate outside of their island homes. In fact, former residents of Chuuk, Palau, Kiribati, Pohnpei, and other parts of the Micronesian chain make up a large segment of Hawaii’s newest immigrants. When they relocate to Hawaii and other points east, many find themselves in a completely different context that is difficult to navigate culturally and assimilation comes slowly if at all; prejudice and lack of opportunity is very real.
The traditional arts in Hawaiʻi are seriously under-represented with minority groups, such as the Micronesian artists, who are most affected. We are collaborating with the Micronesian community to provide after-school traditional arts classes for the Micronesian students in the downtown Chinatown area. Principal Joe Passantino at Keʻelikolani Middle School is in support of the proposed program. The middle school has 60% Micronesian students. We also have the support of Mark Meriman of the Downtown Chinatown Rotary Club. We plan to hold the traditional arts classes in the middle school so that the students can remain on campus.
The arts education initiative is in conjunction with a bigger project with the Micronesian community to provide artists access to needed exhibit space, opportunities for public programming, workshops, and entryways into the art marketplace.
The Downtown Art Center is the prime venue for an upcoming exhibit celebrating Micronesian Arts in 2023.
Funded by Oahu, HI (January 2023)