West Oʻahu students imagine military bunkers as community centers at Hawaiʻi Triennial
The Hawaiʻi Triennial art exhibition continues to provide new experiences around Oʻahu.
One installation this week in Kapolei takes a fun look at what might be done with a historic site. A group of young people in West Oʻahu are envisioning new uses for the area once known as Fort Barrette.
Puʻuokapolei is an ancient cinder cone, the only high point on Oʻahu's ʻEwa plain. It was home to a heiau in Hawaiian prehistory, and in 1931, it became the military installation now known as Fort Barrette.
This week, inside Kapolei Hale, you can see ideas for repurposing the military site. It includes huge protective bunkers where the Army once hid Nike missiles. There are also tunnels and underground galleries.
Kapolei High School student Haley Amphonephong was on one of the teams pitching new concepts for the area.
"It was pretty exciting because we had to do so much research for it," Amphonephong said.
Amphonephong says their goal was to connect the community with moʻolelo, or legends, about Kapolei. They learned Kapōʻulakinaʻu was the goddess of fertility, and powers of the dark.
They chose to highlight the polarity of ʻEwa's blazing heat and the darkness of the goddess.
"We're going to have a statue of Kapo, because she's the goddess of dark and mystery. The statue is going to be a plant. At a certain angle or when the light hits it, the shadow will be Kapo herself," she said.
"If you were to go up on there yourself, you would be able to see almost all of Kapolei," said Jad Gazmen, a project partner and a senior at Kapolei High.
He says an event space could build community at Puʻuokapolei, their town's namesake.
"There would be the plaza with the statue, it could be a nice gathering space. I think it would be really cool if we were able to host our senior luau up on Puʻuokapolei," Gazmen said.
Installations, galleries and event spaces are envisioned inside the bunkers and connecting tunnels. All are potential future Triennial sites.
Ulu Aʻe Learning Center, an organization that provides culturally-based afterschool programs, and DreamHouse ʻEwa Beach, Hawaiʻi’s newest charter school, are well represented in the display at Kapolei Hale near the driver licensing section. It was organized by Emma Lake, a Hawaiʻi Contemporary Fellow, and recent graduate of UH West Oʻahu's Academy for Creative Media.
Make fun stuff at Hawaiʻi Triennial's free "Re-Create Workshops," noon to 2 p.m., every Saturday in March at Kapolei Commons near the theaters.
It's Kailua's turn for a Triennial activation on March 26, 2022. It's a cook-and-eat demonstration on the pleasures of wild amaranth. The Eating in Public project illuminates edible weeds in unexpected sites around Oʻahu.