New Bishop Museum exhibit immerses visitors in vibrant street art experience

Published: May. 14, 2021 at 4:04 PM HST|Updated: Jul. 22, 2021 at 7:55 AM HST
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HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - Open the doors of the Castle Memorial Building of Bishop Museum come this weekend and you’ll be transported into a world of street art, complete with graffiti-clad storefronts like a record shop, tattoo parlor and noodle bar.

From there, the different paths throughout the main hall eventually lead to vibrant displays of giant murals and hundreds of original artwork lining the walls.

The murals might look familiar — that’s because they’re made by POW! WOW! Hawaii, the creative minds behind street art murals in Kakaako.

And they’re marking a big milestone: 10 years.

To celebrate the anniversary, POW! WOW! teamed up with Bishop Museum to bring a brand new, first-of-its-kind exhibit called POW! WOW! The First Decade: From Hawaii to the World presented by Hawaiian Airlines, which opens to the public Saturday.

“This is the first street art museum exhibition in the state of Hawaii,” said Jasper Wong, POW! WOW! founder and lead director. “No one’s done it yet, and even more amazing, it’s at the Bishop Museum, which is known more as a natural history museum and a science museum.”

The exhibit aims to bring an immersive, contemporary art experience to showcase the culture, creative expression and indigenous perspectives of over 160 street artists and sculptors from both Hawaii and around the world.

“I think it reflects the culture and people because it is the culture and people,” Wong said. “The people who are involved in the show, the majority of them are from here and grew up here and were raised here — many of them also being Native Hawaiian or Native American too, so their art speaks to who they are, and it speaks to the culture collectively.”

Wong said putting the exhibition together was a challenge because much of the planning and preparation happened during the coronavirus pandemic, which posed a multitude of issues ranging from shortages in supplies to travel restrictions and confirming artists could come to Hawaii.

Yet, after a year of lockdowns and change due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Wong said the experience promises to bring some color and light to people.

“We as a team of organizers are doing it pro bono, so it’s really us trying to give back to our own communities, to give back to Hawaii, to give back to our culture and give back to the arts,” Wong said. “It wasn’t easy, it was probably one of the hardest exhibitions I put on personally, and we just hope that people will then come here and just fall in love and see just the amount of heart that everyone has put into it.”

The exhibit runs from May 15 through Sept. 19.

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