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Protecting Paradise

Artist Jamie Allen 05 IL is using stop-motion animation to teach kids about endangered bird species native to the Hawaiian island.

Protecting Paradise

Stop-motion animation by Jamie Allen 05 IL focuses on Hawaiian birds like the i`iwi, whose numbers are threatened by malaria.

School kids in Hawaii are learning about the challenges facing native bird species via Symphony of the Hawaiian Birds, a multidisciplinary performance piece that includes stop-motion animation by Jamie Allen 05 IL and four fellow O’ahu-based artists.

The artists recently collaborated with University of Hawaii science professors, Hawaiian bird and conservation specialists, local composers and the Hawaii Symphony Orchestra to create a series of animated shorts accompanied by live music. So far more than 8,000 students have learned from the series.

“The program introduces children to extinct, endemic and endangered Hawaiian birds,” Allen says, “explaining why they’re important to Hawaii and what we can all do to help them return to healthy populations.” A classroom component provides hands-on science-meets-art learning in support of the program’s goals.

“Navigating physical and mental environments through the process of making art has become a journey of learning and self-awareness.”

Allen’s animation, Nā Manu `I`o (Significant Birds), highlights the i`iwi and the ‘elepaio, focusing on their disappearing habitats and incorporating her cut paper and watercolor paintings. “In conducting research at the Bishop Museum in Honolulu, I learned a lot about native plants and animals,” she says.

The project is a natural progression for Allen, who draws inspiration for her own paintings from the lush environment in which she lives and hopes her work helps “redefine beauty and reveal elements of nature that are often overlooked.” For her, “navigating physical and mental environments through the process of making art has become a journey of learning and self-awareness,” she adds.

Allen’s mixed media painting 'akia (22 x 22")

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