When Learning Is Play
I recently visited the magnificent Spalding House grounds in Makiki Heights (526-1322, honolulumuseum.org) to watch museum staff guide 47 fifth-graders through Inquiring Finds: The Science Behind the Art, an exhibit (through July 6) that integrates science and art using hands-on projects and displays about ceramics, photography, light and the physics of kinetic art.
A total of 45 schools from around the Island and from Kauai and Molokai will have filtered their K-12 students through the museum during the course of the exhibit.
Several key folks weigh in on the significance of the educational program:
EXHIBIT SPONSOR HAWAIIAN ELECTRIC’S
“The exhibit is a bridge between science and art that helps kids understand the world around them. Hawaiian Electric is all about fostering the next generation. If we can inspire and instill in them love of the environment, they’ll be the ones to develop new technologies and find new solutions, and to hopefully stay in Hawaii and share that with the next generation.
This is STEAM, rather than STEM. We always think of science, technology, engineering and mathematics, but STEAM (including art in the formula) is taking it to the next level. Kids are not necessarily able to articulate themselves, but through art they can share who they are and what they’re thinking.
Some students have never been someplace like Honolulu Museum of Art. One kid said, ‘I want to come back with my entire football team!’ He was so excited that it was just gushing out of him. This is the opportunity we’re happy to provide.”
SPALDING HOUSE MUSEUM EDUCATOR,
“I remember coming as a fifth-grader. A lot of kids in Hawaii, their experience with the museum is through these school tour programs.
With this exhibition, we have developed projects and tours that dovetail into school subjects and teaches curricula. I work particularly with the hands-on aspect, collaborating with active artists in the community and giving them the opportunity to share their craft. They all bring different expertise to the program: photographers, ceramists, conceptual artists, textile artists.
This is a science exhibition (previous exhibits focused on music, math and literature). It explores concepts like chemistry through ceramics and photographic processes developed in the 1840s. We explore what science has taught us and what happens when you take that information and run it through the mind of an artist. Science brings understanding, art brings creativity and imagination.”
SPALDING HOUSE CURATOR OF EDUCATION,
“Education isn’t just for kids. When we went from a contemporary program to an educationally based program, people were always saying, ‘It’s going to be a kids’ museum?’ You learn your entire life. When we see adults engaging in the galleries that are initially designed for kids, that’s rewarding.
“We create the tour for K-12, but we can simplify the program or go really deep with it, depending on the age group. As much as possible, we try to engage and incorporate our programs with everybody who comes here.”
‘Glenngarry’ A Tough Sell
Eight stellar actors pour their best into Glengarry Glen Ross at TAG’s Brad Powell Theatre (through June 15; 722-6941, taghawaii.net). Though it was produced only 15 years ago, there’s a dated quality that deadweights the play despite the colorful adult language and sheer energy that the actors pour into their scenes. Jim Aina in particular heats up the stage as a disgruntled real estate agent. Sales are down, jobs are on the line, and desperate men seek desperate measures. Theater is the ultimate flyon-the wall experience. It’s the voyeuristic thrill of safely and gleefully intruding on someone else’s experiences. But David Mamet’s Pulitzer Prize-winning ode to cutthroat office politics doesn’t keep the fly glued even with its surprising turns, heated arguments, burglary and unscrupulous bosses.
Kikunobu Dance Company is celebrating traditional Japanese dance with its 15th concert, Honor and Perpetuation, at Kennedy Theatre (May 31-June 1, 944-2697). The number 50 is fortuitous for the company, as it’s been 50 years since master instructor of Nihon Buyo, Gertrude Tsutsumi, theatrically known as Onoe Kikunobu, founded her dance company in Hawaii; 50 years since her instructor, who performed as a guest artist at her first Hawaii concert, passed on; and half a century since Kennedy Theatre opened its newly built stage and welcomed Onoe Kikunobu as the venue’s very first performing artist.
Over the years, Tsutsumi has lent her authentic hand to kabuki productions put on by UH Theatre and Dance Department, and has served as a Japanese dance instructor for the department. For this 15th concert, special guest artists from Japan will be pairing with Kikunobu Company to make the show a memorable one.