Jasper Wong brought his artistic talent and collaborative mindset to Punahou last week, working with students to create a mural in Cooke Learning Commons. The whimsical mural was unveiled on Nov. 19.
Wong is co-founder of the Hong Kong gallery, ABOVE SECOND. He also is the founder and lead director of POW! WOW!, a nonprofit contemporary arts organization that puts on the annual POW! WOW! Hawaii, with international street artists converging in Kaka’ako to paint murals.
Wong’s mural’s design for Punahou features a bookshelf populated with colorful creatures, an idea that sprouted out of a collaborative process between Wong and the Academy Visual Storytelling class. Students were tasked with developing a concept that reflected the atmosphere of Cooke Library and could engage students.
The team asked students across campus to draw spirit animals that represent who they are, and some of the creatures were selected to include in the mural. Wong was impressed with the level of engagement. “Within the first day, we had hundreds of submissions,” he said. “This project shows how interested students are in art. When given the opportunity, kids want to draw; they want to create.”
Academy Art Department Head Ralph Pascucci was happy to connect his students with Wong. “Part of the way that artists learn is often from a master to an apprentice,” he said. “These young artists got the opportunity to apprentice with Jasper.”
While at Punahou, Wong also visited classes on campus and conducted portfolio reviews for aspiring art college students. “I think art education is important, and it seems to be something that we are losing in a lot of schools, especially in Hawaiʻi,” he explained.
Wong’s visit was funded by the Marcine Lichter ’53 Friedman Endowed Fund for Visiting Artists.