Will Ryan, an artist who lives six months out of the year in Amagansett and the other six months on the Hawaiian island of Maui, has organized two fundraisers to help the people of Lahaina, many who have lost everything during recent wildfires in the region.
The first event is titled Maui Strong, and will take place at the Stephen Talkhouse on October 15 at 7 PM. There will be a video blessing and chant from Hawaiian Kumu, Aulii Mitchel, and musicians include Klyph Black, Joe Delia, Inda Eaton, Mama Lee, Bosco, Winston Irie, Al Buonanno, Denny Mc Dermott, Max Louis, and more. All proceeds will go directly to the community.
The second event is an art fundraiser titled “Small Works For A Big Cause” on October 20 at ABNY Gallery in East Hampton. This event will be a silent auction of more than 30 small works donated by the East End art community. All the proceeds from this auction will go to a project titled “Maui Art Bags,” the brainchild of Colleen McGowan in partnership with the Anna Mirabai Lytton Foundation, providing art kits to the traumatized children of Lahaina.
“This benefit will fund Maui Art Bags, a project to send art supplies to children on Maui devastated by the fires. Art Bags started during Covid in the Springs School District where I taught art for 30 years. The school closed and kids were on remote learning. Teachers and I packed bags with sketch pads, construction paper, scissors, glue, markers, crayons, watercolor paints and brushes, colored pencils, ruler, drawing paper, pencils and sharpener, scissors, erasers, and an activity book. School bus drivers delivered art supplies to 250 families,” said McGowan.
“I moved to Maui after retiring. I was deeply impressed with Hawaiian art and culture and how they’re revered as a source of resilience and strength. After this year’s catastrophic fires I knew art could be a way to help these kids to regain some sense of normalcy. Many have lost homes, schools, and community centers and are living in shelters or hotels with few possessions or outlets for expression. Art can be effective therapy to cope with trauma and stress. Providing art materials in the Maui Art Bags will help these children access and heal their traumatic memories and emotions,” she continued.