Spotlight on Tory Laitila - NAP Coordinator for Honolulu, HI

For the last six years, our Honolulu, Hawaii show has been coordinated by Tory Laitila, the Registrar for the Mayor's Office of Culture and the Arts (MOCA). MOCA's mission is to promote the value of arts and culture throughout communities in the City and County of Honolulu. Tory not only does this by maintaining all the city-owned artwork, but by offering the City and County employees the chance to showcase their artistic talent through the NAP Exhibition.

Tory LaitilaTory is truly a creative spirit who understands the importance of showcasing the artistic talent that is inside all of us. We are pleased to feature him as the NAP Spotlight for the month of May. 

When we asked Tory about his experience with the NAP, here is what he had to say ...

Q. What makes the National Arts Program® different than any other art exhibit put on by the Mayor’s Office of Culture & the Arts?
A. NAP with MOCA is the only exhibit that we put on directly by ourselves. Our venue at Honolulu Hale is used by a variety of community groups and City departments with exhibits on children’s art, ikebana, artist groups, historic exhibits, and city informational displays. This is the one time where the work of individual city employees who are artists is showcased.
Q. Why do you feel that displaying employee artwork is important?
A. As we spend a great deal of time at work, we are sometimes not able to express who we are; everyone needs a hobby or at least a way of expressing who they are. Displaying one’s artwork allows one to share a little about oneself without saying a word. Of course once one’s co-workers find out about what one does it’s sometimes hard to keep quiet about it.
Q. How have employees and their families responded to the opportunity to display their artwork?
A. Employees and their families really enjoy the opportunity to display their work and look forward to it every year. We do have several professional artists who work for the city and even a few art instructors (some are art instructors with the Department of Parks and Recreation) and they enjoy another venue to showcase their work. Many family members have enjoyed displaying their work and they’ve gone on to pursue art in their studies.
Q. Why do you think displaying artwork in a government setting is so important?
A. Displaying artwork in a government setting is important to show the human factor of the machine that some people think the government is. Government really depends on the people and the decisions they make. As a government setting it is also important to showcase local talent as it defines who we are and contributes to our sense of place.
Q. What is your favorite aspect of the National Arts Program®?
A. Personally, my favorite aspect of the National Arts Program® is meeting all my City coworkers; as the exhibit invites all 80,000 employees to enter from all the various departments. At the reception, firemen mingle with police officers mingling with lifeguards mingling with accountants mingling with architects mingling with lawyers mingling with refuse workers mingling clerks mingling with park staff.
Q. How has utilizing online registration made the process easier for you?
A. 2011 will be the first we’ll be utilizing the online registration. I’m sure it will make it easier for employees to enter.
Q. Do visitors to the building respond to the exhibit?
A. As the exhibit is in the courtyard of City Hall we do get quite a bit of foot traffic so some people come for the exhibit and others are here on City business and get to see what else the City employees are up to.
Q. Can you tell us how art has had a positive impact on your personal life?
A. Art has had a positive impact on my life as it is my career of choice. I really do enjoy my job and the work I do. I’ve made contact professionally which I maintain personally. Personally, my hobby has opened up a few opportunities and connected me with many friends.
Q. How did you get started in the art field or have you always been involved in the arts? Are you an artist yourself?
A. In college I took an art history course and really enjoyed it and started working at the university art gallery which then led to me to working at a few local museums and with conservators on public art which eventually led to my current position as Registrar with the Honolulu Mayor’s Office on Culture and the Arts. I don’t consider myself an artist; I’m more of a craftsman (as I make costumes and clothes).