Many of Hawai`i’s most authentic and gifted tradition-bearers were in their later years and lived in rural areas. As the pace of technology and social change accelerates, we found that many of these masters were the last living embodiments of lifestyles, community values, languages, and skills from eras never to be seen again. Because Hawai`i is extraordinarily rich in ethnically distinct communities that also, when combined, form a subculture unique in American society, it was especially important to to video document local traditional artists.
Furthermore, the materials gathered in this archive serve as a basis from which to create edited documentaries for broadcast and the Internet, for use in the classroom, and for presentations to the general public.
Initial artists for documentation included Peter Park, a knowledgeable 82-year old lauhala weaver on the big island and Wright Bowman Sr., 92 years old and a premier Hawaiian wood craftsmen of boat, agricultural implements and ritual objects. Other folk arts masters worked in the areas of hula, storytelling, Cantonese opera, saddle making, fish nets and lauhala hats were considered for documentation.
Hawai`i Craftsmen and the Folk Arts Program at the State Foundation on Culture and the Arts began the process of creating an accessible video archive for Hawai`i's living masters and their arts. The archive is for artists and craftspeople, scholars and researchers, teachers and students and interested citizens.
The materials gathered in this archive served as a basis from which to create edited video documentation for broadcast and the Internet, for use in the classroom, and for presentations to the general public. Project director Michael Schuster said, "To create such an archive is a large task, and an essential task, because who we are and where we come from permeate every aspect of our life".
Hawai`i Craftsmen received three grants for the project: National Endowment for the Arts, Cooke Foundation and Atherton Family Foundation. We were very honored to be a part of this project that will inform and inspire for many generations to come.