"Nā kiaʻi o Kapolei" (The guardians of Kapolei) - CODAworx

“Nā kiaʻi o Kapolei” (The guardians of Kapolei)

Client: Hawaii State Foundation on Culture And Arts

Location: Kapolei, HI, United States

Completion date: 2024

Artwork budget: $424,997

Project Team


Jessica Bodner


Demiurge design

Demiurge design


Hawaii State Foundation on Culture and Arts


University Of Hawaii West Oahu


A public art project commissioned by the Hawaii State Foundation on Culture and Arts for the University Of Hawaii West Oahu campus entrance roundabout.
An installation of six “Kiaʻi” sculptures, each representing an island the University of Hawaii serves. Inspired by a vision in a dream, these pieces call to the viewer to make their own interpretation. It is the artists vision that these sculptures serve to protect, welcome, spark dialogue and create a waypoint and landmark for years to come.


Selection was made by an advisory committee made up of campus staff, community members and arts commission and city members. The goals were to select an artwork that was not figurative yet conveyed a connection and landmark for the campus, the architecture and Hawaiian culture while filling a very large roundabout area.


My inspiration for this sculpture came to me in my upcountry Maui home as a vision in a dream. The six towers represent an island which has a University of Hawaii campus serving the community
It was made real through research, site visits, countless sketches, scale models and mock-ups, taking into consideration the goals of the committee, site restrictions, utilities and design of the campus architecture.
After over 3 years of dedicated work from everyone involved, including the entire committee, The State Foundation on Culture and Arts and Demiurge Design who I subcontracted the fabrication and installation of this piece to. The piece was installed on March 19th with a Blessing ceremony and celebration on March 25th.

Additional Information

“These Kia’i are a landmark for the campus community. They may be interactive or stand as guardians and even serve as a staging area for performing arts and music,” said Bodner. “My hope is that these Kiaʻi inspire the community and motivate students to reach for new heights.”⁠ ⁠