In an effort to raise awareness about the plight of the homeless in Honolulu, two visiting artists are repurposing shopping carts used to collect recyclables that they ultimately plan to place back on the streets.
The carts, at least eight in total, will be on display today on the front lawn of the Hawai‘i State Art Museum. In addition, 10 minicarts designed by artists will be auctioned off at a starting price of $100, with proceeds going to groups that help the homeless in Hawaii.
It’s public art of a different kind for the Hawaii State Foundation on Culture and the Arts, which partnered with Minnesota-based Forecast Public Art for the project.
“As it celebrates its 50th year of Art in Public Places, SFCA is breaking out of the traditional public art mold to address homelessness through public art and social engagement,” said Jonathan Johnson, executive director of the SFCA.
>> When: 1 to 3 p.m. today
>> Where: Front lawn of the Hawai‘i State Art Museum
>> Note: Minicarts designed by artists will be auctioned off at a starting price of $100, with proceeds benefiting the homeless in Hawaii
For 50 years, Johnson said, the Art in Public Places program has been creating permanent works. This project signals the foundation’s new direction toward creating temporary and ephemeral art as well.
Karen Ewald, Art in Public Places manager and Hawai‘i State Art Museum director, was behind the new initiative, he said.
Thiago Mundano, a street artist from Sao Paulo, Brazil, and Ian Kuali‘i, a multidisciplinary artist from the San Francisco Bay Area who grew up on Maui, were invited to collaborate on the cart project here following a symposium on the future of public art.
Earlier this week the pair walked the streets of Kakaako and visited Ala Moana Beach Park to speak with the homeless.
At the heart of the project is a movement called “Pimp My Carroca,” which Mundano started in Brazil to acknowledge the value of the “catadores,” or cart pushers, who collect bottles and cans daily in Sao Paulo’s streets and recycle them.
Mundano has painted carts since 2007 but started taking the project to other places around the world, including New York, South Africa and Hong Kong.
In Honolulu the pair refurbished shopping carts donated by Re-use Hawaii in Kakaako using mostly recycled materials from the warehouse. The goal was to make them colorful as well as functional.
They added on pieces to increase the carts’ carrying capacity, for instance, and reflective tape to make them visible at night.
Hawaii has the highest rate of homeless per capita in the nation — 287 homeless for every 100,000 people, according to 2015 statistics. Many make daily income by collecting recyclables and redeeming them for cash.
Kuali‘i, a former Pow! Wow! arts festival participant, was struck by Hawaii’s high numbers of homeless per capita, the transformation of the Kakaako neighborhood and the number of Native Hawaiians who are homeless.
After today’s community display, Mundano and Kuali‘i plan to give the carts back to homeless individuals in Kakaako.
“We hope that they will be around and people will see them,” Mundano said.