April 2, 2009 – Hilo, Hawaii
VIDEO: David Corrigan
Artist Nicholas Bleecker was onhand during the blessing of his $200,000 “Mamalahoe” sculpture during the dedication of the new Hilo judiciary building on Wednesday. It is one of two public sculptures to adorn the exterior grounds of the court complex.
In this video, Bleecker explains the significance of his abstract artwork that now stands by the entrance to the Hale Kaulike building.
The sculpture commemorates the “Law of the Splintered Paddle”, the first law enacted by Kamehameha I to protect women and children on the trailways, Bleecker said.
The three granite figures, weighing more than 1,500 pounds each, have a bronze paddle above their heads and symbolize family unity under the protection of the law.
Bleecker attended Hawaii Preparatory Academy on the Big Island and completed his master’s in fine arts from the University of Hawaii at Manoa.
The Hale Kaulike artworks were both paid for by taxpayer dollars, although according to the Hawaii Tribune-Herald, Mary Begier, Big Island commissioner of the State Foundation on Culture and the Arts, says that almost all of the cost is going towards the raw materials, which rose sharply in recent years.
For the artists, the sculptures are a labor of love.