KŪKULU: Pillars Standing Together (May 10, 2023-May 31, 2024)

Unfortunately, NYU has chosen to barricade Schwartz Plaza, where KŪKULU: Pillars Standing Together is installed. Although the exhibition is meant to be accessible 24/7, an NYU ID is now required for entry into the public space, and the exhibition can no longer be visited by those who do not hold NYU IDs.

KŪKULU  is an installation that addresses the rights of Native and Indigenous peoples to their own land and sacred spaces. The irony that this space has been blocked off in order to quell student resistance and organizing in response to an ongoing genocide and a settler colonial state is not lost on us. The decision to close the plaza in the name of “security” is certainly not one that we, nor the KŪKULU curators, stand by.

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Co-curated by Pua Case and Lehuanani DeFranco

Sponsored by the Asian/Pacific/American Institute at NYU and Mauna Kea Education and Awareness

On view in the Schwartz Plaza Vitrines, Wednesday, May 10, 2023-Friday, May 31, 2024 (final extension!)

KŪKULU: Pillars Standing Together is the eleventh installment of KŪKULU, a traveling art exhibition honoring the pillars of Mauna Kea who stand for the protection of the tallest mountain (from the ocean floor) in the world. Each exhibition is committed to uplifting, inspiring, and educating, and to acknowledging, recognizing, and honoring those standing for Mauna Kea and for all sacred and storied places in and beyond Hawaiʻi. 

Located on the island of Hawaiʻi, Mauna Kea, also known as Mauna a Wākea (Mountain of Sky Father), is a sacred piko, energetic portal, vital aquifer, fragile alpine ecosystem, and vibrant landscape of Hawaiian cultural practices and sites. For Native Hawaiians, Mauna Kea holds a spiritual significance, an importance that can be expressed in likening this mountain to a sacred temple. Over fifty-five years of astronomy development on Mauna Kea have resulted in substantial, significant, and adverse impacts upon the environment including the natural and cultural resources within this conservation district. When TMT International Observatory LLC proposed a new massive eighteen-story tall telescope on Mauna Kea, public opposition to this project was vocal. If built, the TMT project would contribute further to the unwelcomed acts of desecration and destruction upon a culturally and environmentally sensitive landscape that includes hundreds of ancient shrines and sites. Since 2010, Mauna Kea Protectors and their allies have stopped all construction attempts through court hearings, meetings, community engagement, and frontline actions. Mauna Kea Protectors have vowed to protect Mauna Kea and stand in solidarity with all our relations to protect their ancestral lands, waters, people, and cultural traditions.

Learn about ways to support the protection of Mauna Kea and support Maui fire recovery.

Directions and accessibility: The Schwartz Plaza Vitrines are visible 24/7 in the brick passage-way between NYU Bobst Library and NYU Stern, directly south of Washington Square East and across from founder’s memorial.

Photograph of Kahaili giving wai (water) as ho’okupu (an offering) to the Mauna at Pu’uhuluhulu by Leinaʻala Sleighthom, her mother.


Friday, September 8, 2023, 11:00 a.m.-12:00 p.m.
KŪKULU: Mauna Kea Update & Workshop with Kumu Hula Lanakila Mangauil


Tuesday, May 9, 2023, 5:30-6:30 p.m.
Opening Ceremony for KŪKULU: Pillars Standing Together 

Special thanks to the Indigenous Peoples’ Day NYC Committee, Kalpulli Huehuetlahtolli, Kinding Sindaw, Mauna Kea Education and Awareness, Nā ʻŌiwi NYC and Kaina Quenga, Nanticoke Lenni-Lenape Indians, Ramapough Lenape Nation, Redhawk Native Arts Council, Redrum Motorcycle Club & Society,  RedSpirit Women’s Motorcycle Riding Club, Schaghticoke First Nations, Shinnecock Indian Nation, Te Ao Mana, United Confederation of Taino People, the Unkechaug Nation, and Pamela Tinnen.