“The White Doves” Multimedia Installation Brings the Aloha Spirit to Life
This graceful sculpture features hundreds of 3D-printed acrylic origami birds suspended from the ceiling in a dramatic array, perfectly capturing the synchronized ballet of birds flocked together in flight. There’s an interplay of forces at work in the piece, which mixes natural and manmade elements to create an intriguing contrast. The White Doves also incorporates light and sound to create different dynamics. By day, it’s a multilayered sculpture, while by night it’s a multimedia artwork that juxtaposes the sculpture against video images of birds in flight and a subtle natural soundtrack.
And then there’s the white dove itself, a universal symbol of peace and freedom, shown here flocked and flying together toward destinations unknown.
The White Doves derives from Pendry’s earlier work called “Les Colombes” (French for “the doves”), which has been exhibited around the world, including on Mount Zion in Jerusalem, in the Salisbury Cathedral in England, and most recently in Washington National Cathedral in the nation’s capital.
The Maui unveiling of The White Doves coincides with the completion of the first phase of Grand Wailea’s property-wide refresh, which has reimagined and transformed our iconic resort. Indeed, this is a fitting moment for the arrival of this inspiring, uplifting work of art, which invites you to look up and take flight into a future filled with hope and optimism.
We had the pleasure of sitting down with Michael Pendry to talk about his work, his artistic vision, and how he’s found the perfect spatial canvas for The White Doves at Grand Wailea.
This interview has been edited for clarity and length.
What are your roots as an artist, Michael?
What I’ve learned over the years is that becoming an artist is a process. You don’t just come out of art academy fully formed. My journey to becoming an artist is in some ways a series of happy accidents. When I was young, I was actually a theatre guy. My grandmother was an opera singer, my uncle was a composer, and my mother was a huge theatre fan, so I really grew up in that world. I actually studied scenography and then worked as an interior and stage designer for many years. I also studied Carl Jung’s psychological work and played around with incorporating his ideas into imagery.
You’ve certainly taken an interesting route to becoming the artist you are today.
Very true! But every stage of my development has helped shape me and the art I create. There’s the clear connection between my background as a set designer and my large-scale art installations, but there are more subtle connections, too—like my artistic methods and the subject matter I choose. I’ve learned over the years that there are two distinct parts to being an artist: working and then exhibiting. The first occurs almost in isolation, when it’s hard to gauge the impact of your creation, but when you show it publicly, there’s this huge release, this satisfaction. But believe me, it’s hard to get to this point. There were times early in my career when I went through hard times…I didn’t always get to work at places like the Grand Wailea! I consider myself fortunate to have developed as an artist in the way I did.
Can you tell us more about that satisfying feeling you get when you exhibit your work?
It’s always a great experience. Look, it’s brought me around the world—to sites like Mount Zion and the National Cathedral in DC, and even to more far-flung places like Mumbai. It never gets old. I think it’s got something to do with the art I make. It has several layers, but it’s approachable. With my art, the aesthetics draw you in and immerse you, leaving you free to interpret it in a number of ways on a very personal level. I like to use simple everyday imagery to alter perceptions. I seek out connections between our environment, and with people and places. These connections all point to a deeper intimacy and a global interconnectedness.
Take The White Doves, for instance. There’s a very clear art-for-peace message in this work, but that’s just an entry point. With this piece and its predecessor, Les Colombes, the reactions I get are deeply personal—they transcend the simple message that the work communicates. And that’s what art is meant to do. It’s a conversation starter, a way to get at the deeper things that bind us together.
You’ve shown Les Colombes and The White Doves all over the world. What brings you to Grand Wailea and Maui?
Interestingly, Les Colombes is one of my smaller pieces, but it’s been one of my most successful ones. Since its debut in 2014, my guess is that it’s been seen by more than 2 million people, which is extraordinarily humbling. The impact and reach of Les Colombes opened a lot of doors for me, and my Grand Wailea connection came through one of my art advisors, who’s based in New York.
I immediately felt a connection with Grand Wailea because of the strong role that art has played at the resort since its opening [in 1991]. I learned that the original developer [Takeshi Sekiguchi] was a huge art fan, and his original vision was of a resort embedded in outdoor art museum. You can see that today with Grand Wailea’s amazing art and sculpture collection—art is a core part of the experience, with the resort literally bringing art to the people.
Another thing that immediately resonated with me at Grand Wailea is the connection and closeness the resort has with nature and the underwater world. This perfectly aligns with The White Doves, with the fluidity of the doves in flight and the breezes and water that flow through and around the resort providing a sort of natural parallel.
My first visit was in June 2022. I walked around together with the team and was so taken by everything. But when we came to ʻIkena, I just knew this was where The White Doves had to be. It’s a large space, completely open, with ocean vistas and breezes and a light feeling that works perfectly with the spirit of the piece. In fact, now that the installation is in place, it feels like the doves have been here forever. It just works—the various aspects of the space and the art just click with each other.
On top of these physical aspects, The White Doves also fits the spirit of aloha that permeates the Grand Wailea experience. The sculpture distills hope, peace, and togetherness into a tangible experience that I hope can inspire and uplift others.