The Haugen Twins Create Art and Community on Lana'i
With a thriving business on the Hawaiian Island of Lana’i, art majors Natasha and Saskia Haugen flout the cliché about starving artists. The twin sisters’ company, Twinspirations, specializes in providing high quality Venetian stucco finishes, fresco murals, stained glass work and mosaics for residents on the resort island.
After graduating from UMF, the Haugen sisters were schooled on how to apply Venetian plaster finishes from Safra Plasters of Verona, Italy. Their recent projects include installing 1,700 square feet of Venetian plaster throughout a resort home and painting a 15-by-10 foot exterior fresco. And after mastering stained glass techniques at Studio Giambo in Florence, Italy, the pair also creates custom-made installations for island homes.
“Lana’i has a lot of the right demographic for our work,” said Natasha, who took a brief hiatus from the telephone interview to conclude the sale of a watercolor print—from the lobby of the island’s luxury Four Seasons Resort. “Many island residents are second home owners along two different golf resorts who want to beautify their homes.”
Long before creating art for the luxury set on Lana’i, Natasha and Saskia had a different muse—fostering community development with art in rural New England.
In Deer Isle, Maine, the sisters helped children develop 13 murals within the Island Community Center. In Vermont they provided art education to a teen center and an alternative school at Maplehill Community Farm. At Crossroads Academy in Lyme, N.H., they worked with 140 K-8 students, faculty and parents to develop a community mural. And in Lebanon, N.H., they received grant funding to help 24 teens develop murals in the town’s public library and Riverside Community Park. The project involved working with the Lebanon City Council to ensure creation of public art would be integral to the town’s master plan.
“The whole idea was to pave a road so public art would be incorporated into the city’s infrastructure. We wanted to beautify the city by making art more of a public presence,” Natasha said.
Despite ample high-end clients on Lana’i, Natasha and Saskia have continued seeding grass-roots, community-based art projects. At the Lana’i Art Center, a National Endowment for the Arts-funded community art center, the sisters teach stained glass and silk-screening. And they are in the throes of planning another grant-funded mural project with island youth.
“Fundamental to any healthy community is a strong source of art,” Saskia said. “As an artist, I enjoy helping people to become entrepreneurial with ways to introduce art into the community. It’s gratifying to have a source of funding through self-expression, but it’s also important to do something for the community.”