An exciting year-long workshop series at Chaminade is seeking to help tell the rich stories of the University and its Marianist founders through art in a bid to give participants an engaging and hands-on way to appreciate the institution’s sense of place—and reflect on their own place in it.
Each Marianists & the Arts workshop approaches Chaminade’s history through a different field of study or craft, from Olelo Hawaii to ceramics to digital art to woodworking. And when each workshop ends, participants walk away with their own hand-crafted “artifact” that helps tell Chaminade’s story.
The series was developed by Sr. Malia Wong, a Humanities, Arts and Design senior lecturer.
Wong said each of the Marianists & the Arts workshops include a presentation based on readings and a unique “creating session that’s focused on bringing a part of the story to a contemporary audience.”
In launching the workshop series, Wong was able to secure a grant from the Marianist Sponsorship Ministries Foundation for supplies and other costs. Additionally, she recruited a number of Chaminade faculty members and staff who were delighted to help tell Chaminade’s story in a new way.
Wong said that by the end of each workshop, participants walk away with insight into “one or more parts of the history of Chaminade through the vision, dreams, struggles and successes, faith and humanity, and values of the first Marianists as represented by the artifact produced.”
In one recent workshop, Kumu Keahi Renauld explored the life and contributions of Bro. Oliver Mahealani Aiu—a Native Hawaiian who went away to study and then returned to serve his community. He said the participants considered how language and culture are intertwined, and how Olelo Hawaii plays a relevant and important role in the story of the Marianists and Chaminade today.
“We all need to realize the power of our words in everyday life,” Renauld said.
Dr. Junghwa Suh, a professor in the Environmental + Interior Design program, used digital arts to illuminate the contributions of Bro. Joseph Becker, who helped to found Chaminade and wrote its alma mater. For her workshop, she tasked participants with visualizing the emotions of the lyrics.
Suh said she jumped at the chance to lead the workshop because she wanted to learn more about Chaminade’s founders. She added that giving participants the freedom to interpret emotions in art and then incorporate their perspectives is powerful. “These activities are designed to reflect on who and where they are in the story of our founders and journey, and learn about the University,” she said.
International Studies student Marl-John Valerio attended a Marianists & the Arts workshop that focused on the legacy of Bro. Bertram Bellinghausen, the first president of what would later become Saint Louis School. Attendees reflected on his life and work as they tackled a ceramics project.
“What I enjoyed most about the workshop was the process. Shaping and forming the art that you envisioned was difficult for a novice like me,” Valerio said. “My biggest takeaway is that mistakes are OK. You can envision what you may want in life but sometimes it won’t work out as you thought.”
Devin Oishi, a Fine Arts professor at Chaminade, led the ceramics workshop. In addition to helping students to make pinch pots or slab pieces, he created a collaborative piece with participants. “I threw a large base on the potter wheel and students, staff and friends then added coils as a mirror of how Chaminade developed, with a foundation and generations contributing to the legacy,” he said.
Oishi said he wants attendees to think of themselves as “the next layer of stones being added to the foundation” of Chaminade and members of a strong ‘ohana contributing to society in a meaningful way.
Kumu Kahoalii Keahi-Wood, a cultural engagement specialist in the School of Natural Sciences and Mathematics, led workshops on campus la’au, or vegetation, and the teachings of Marianist Father Joseph Priestley. Keahi-Wood said he sought to underscore how Priestley, who was Native Hawaiian, embraced Marianist values without losing his cultural identity.
“In this workshop, we explored the values and steps required to be a practitioner, protocols involved in picking plants, carrying out healing, and basic chants that can be done to refocus your mind,” Keahi-Wood said. “We also take a look at plants that are found on campus and viewed for healing.”
And the takeaway from the gathering? It’s simple.
“You don’t need to lose your traditions to follow Marianist ones. There is overlap,” Keahi-Wood said.
Dr. Dale Fryxell, dean of the School of Education and Behavioral Sciences, said he was honored to participate in the Marianists & the Arts series. He led a workshop focused on woodworking and the life of Father Stephan Tutas, who served as director of the Marianist community in Honolulu, taught at Saint Louis School, and was a professor and administrator at Chaminade before leaving the islands.
Fryxell said Tutas is well-known for his reflections, including his writings on an “attitude of gratitude.”
Workshop participants turned and assembled their own pen out of koa wood on a lathe.
“What better way to start each day than to use the pen that they created, to learn and write about things they are passionate about and will hopefully lead them to become leaders that will inspire others, just as Father Tutas did?” said Fryxell, who previously owned and operated a woodworking business.
Fryxell said Tutas also wrote about “turning points in our lives,” and so he encouraged participants to consider the connection between these critical moments and the turning of an object on a lathe. “Often when you start to create something on the lathe, you may have an idea about what it will turn out to be. But in the process, it may end up completely different—similar to many of life’s journeys,” Fryxell said.
That was the big lesson that Nursing student Taylor Crawford walked away with.
“I need to have more patience as life has many turns,” she said, adding she hopes to take more workshops. “I enjoyed being creative and making something linked to the people we learned about.”
Charlie Clausner, MBA ’21, attended the workshop on Olelo Hawaii. He said he chiefly wanted to add to his Hawaiian language skills. But along the way, he said, he also “gained a deeper foundation of the Hawaiian language and learned a lot about some Chaminade classmates and the university.”
In addition to the various workshops, Bro. Edward Brink and Bro. Thomas Jalbert offered a walking tour of the Chaminade campus where participants learned of the University’s history and heard stories of the Marianists.