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Little works of art are popping up around town, and they carry a special purpose

Artist Dannah Mari Hidalgo shows off the Little Free Diverse Library she's working on. The free...
Artist Dannah Mari Hidalgo shows off the Little Free Diverse Library she's working on. The free community library will be installed at the Bobby Benson Center in Kahuku.(Image: Hawaii News Now)
Published: Jul. 28, 2021 at 6:11 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Artist Dannah Mari Hidalgo is used to producing big pieces.

“Some of my paintings can get pretty large, like five to seven feet when I’ve had the facility to do that,” she said.

Her latest masterpiece is small enough she’s doing it in her living room. She’s painting portraits of young people on a wooden box.

“The best way to explain what it’ll look like is the Brady Bunch Squares,” she said.

The finished product will be the latest in a growing line of Little Free Diverse Libraries.

“Here in Honolulu, the Greener Reader and Hawaii FEAST were inspired by a woman in New York, a high school counselor who started the Little Free Diverse Libraries,” said Greener Reader founder Justine Espiritu.

Eight of the boxes are placed in high traffic areas in urban Honolulu. They all look different, and they’re stocked with books written by authors of color who cover themes of equity and diversity.

Anyone can borrow the books.

“When you’re done reading it, if you can, return it so someone else can use it,” Espiritu said.

Hawaii FEAST and Greener Reader are trying to raise funds to build, install and stock a dozen of the libraries on Oahu and the neighbor islands. They want to keep growing.

One is planned for the Bishop Museum, another for a homeless village in Waianae.

“There’s not a max of little free libraries that can happen,” Espiritu said. “Each one takes on its own personality based on where it is.”

Artists get a stipend for their work. Hidalgo’s will be installed at the Bobby Benson Center in Kahuku.

“I think it’s a really good location for it to be at because I think it’s a different demographic from what was originally intended for the libraries,” she said.

She’s hoping to finish her painting in about a week.

To find our more about the Little Free Diverse Libraries campaign, click here.

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