Marie McDonald – 2010 Alfred Preis Honoree


Hawaii Arts Alliance announces the 2010 Alfred Preis Honoree, Marie McDonald, one of Hawaii’s most respected kupuna in the arts of lei and kapa-making. The Alliance will recognize her contributions to the arts of Hawaii at a celebration in December.

Marie McDonald

Big Island resident Marie McDonald has spent 50 years producing the exquisite lei of Hawaii. For this long-standing commitment to Hawaiian arts, Marie was recognized as a National Heritage Fellow by the National Endowment for the Arts.

She is one of Hawaii’s best known authorities on the subject and author of the definitive “Ka Lei – The Leis of Hawai’i” and “Na Lei Makamae,” co authored with Paul Weissich.

In the process of researching these books she has brought to light the particular beauty of pre-contact lei. And through her love of the art she has become a tireless advocate for the preservation of the Hawaiian lands that provide the rare materials for these leis and other Hawaiian arts such as kapa-making.

Marie has researched Native kapa-making, and from her findings has developed ancient plant dyes for her own magnificent pieces. An exhibit of these pieces was recently held at the Honolulu Academy of Arts.

Marie has devoted many years to educating Hawaii’s youth, as a resource specialist for the Department of Parks and Recreation and as an art teacher in North Kohala on Big Island. Her 10-acre farm, Honopua, on Hawaiian Home Lands in Waimea is a model program and resource for community members. The land also provides the materials for her lei and kapa.

Most recently Marie has supported the creation of HOEA: Hawaiian Ohana for Education
in the Arts, “established to increase the number, visibility and accessibility to Native Hawaiian Arts and Artists,” and was kumu kapa during its first session in 2009.

The long term vision for HOEA includes building a Community Art Center in one of the Hawaiian Home Land communities in Waimea, and its development into an accredited post secondary School of Hawaiian Fine Arts.

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