Pu‘uhonua Society creates opportunities for Native Hawaiian and Hawai‘i-based artists and cultural practitioners to express themselves in their chosen medium. We develop, organize, and support community art projects, art exhibitions, and production networks for cultural artisans in Hawai‘i.
Pu‘uhonua Society traces its history back to 1972, when Emma Aluli Meyer originally founded the organization as the Young of Heart Workshop & Gallery. Emma was the youngest daughter of Noa Webster Aluli, a Hawaiian attorney and community advocate. She started the Young of Heart Workshop & Gallery in Kailua, O‘ahu, to inspire and empower young people through art and creativity.
For more than 15 years, the community center presented art exhibitions and offered classes in woodworking, ceramics, drawing, cooking, and painting, as well as performances. During that time, the center hosted the first Windward performance by the Honolulu Symphony; gallery shows by artists Jean Charlot, Claude Horan, and Juliette May Frazier; and the premier of Terrance Knapp’s Father Damien monologue.
In 1996, Emma’s third daughter, Maile Meyer, took over as executive director of the organization, and in 2004, Young of Heart Workshop changed its name to Pu‘uhonua Society* to better reflect its renewed mission as a safe haven for artists and cultural practitioners.
Today, Pu‘uhonua Society’s principal programs include CONTACT, one of the most comprehensive annual exhibitions of contemporary art made in Hawai‘i. Pu‘uhonua Society also oversees the Producers Network for Cultural Artisans, a series of in-depth classes that are focused around cultural products (like cordage, kapa, ‘upena, and lauhala) and that are taught in the traditional, Hawaiian way.
* The first pu‘uhonua organization was established in 1914 by a group of Hawaiians that included Noa W. Aluli. Pu‘uhonua O Na Hawai‘i was a social and legal services center focused on helping Hawaiians during this difficult time in our nation’s history.