Preserving Hawaiian history

WAILUA — When Lisa Haude thought about how to tie Hawaiian culture in with the new design at The Hilton Garden Inn in Wailua, she decided the only way to do it was to bring in an artist from Hawaii.

For Haude, the founder of Paradigm Design Group, the search ended when she found Danielle Zirkelbach, an Oahu artist with a passion for Kauai’s culture.

“There’s this one piece she has done that we love — it’s the birth of the islands out of fire and water,” Haude said. “With her blessing we had that piece recreated by artisans in Mexico. They converted it into a mosaic wall.”

Zirkelbach said the mural is of Pele, the Hawaiian Goddess of Fire, who is traditionally both creator and destroyer of earth. Haude said Zirkelbach’s rendition of that scene inspired more than just one wall.

“That started brainstorming of how we wanted the building to look – the feel and the colors,” Haude said.

In addition to the color scheme, Zirkelbach has a few other pieces of art sprinkled throughout the resort — including a piece featuring the island’s King Kamehameha.

Haude said she also incorporated other Hawaiian elements into the hotel’s design, like traditional tattoo designs on koa wood headboards.

“Being part of this redesign is more important to me than I can express,” Zirkelbach said. “I have been called to the islands all my life. I am not Hawaiian, but you don’t have to be to love the land and the culture — this land gave me so much, I have to give back.”

Zirkelbach grew up in Florida and went to Florida Southern College on a soccer scholarship. She said she went to college to be a doctor, but “that road was longer than I was willing to travel in that direction”, so she earned a bachelor’s degree in science, as well as a bachelor’s in fine arts.

When she graduated, she worked fro design firms in Florida until she teamed up with Eastern Surf Magazine as a graphic designer and fell in love with surfing. That’s when she abandoned her soccer career and threw herself into the waves.

That’s also when she got a waitressing job to earn the money to move to Hawaii.

“It wasn’t easy and it wasn’t always beautiful. It was scary, far from home, different culture, and a different life I had to make many adjustments for,” Zirkelbach said. “But I fell that I allowed the spirit of Hawaii to change me for the best and she always gives back to me with love and protection.”

Since then, she’s continued her love of surfing and found the love of her life.

“I found myself here, I lost myself here, and I fell in love with my husband and I fell in love with my purpose here,” Zirkelbach said.

She said her favorite medium is painting and her second favorite is surfing. Inspiration comes in the form of her husband, the ocean, and those self-made underdogs who “never give up or let people bully them out of doing what they were born to do.”

When it comes to her art being displayed in The Hilton Garden Inn, Zirkelbach said it’s hugely important.

“The Hawaiian culture is suffering, they are fighting to keep their rights, their land, and to keep Hawaii preserved for it’s native people,” Zirkelbach said. “I have an overwhelming urge to use my talents to do my part in preserving the culture. Hawaiian or not, it’s our responsibility.”

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