Virtual Talk: SOYYO Magazine & bG Gallery present 

Art – A c r o s s – America

A virtual travel adventure exploring art around American states and territories.

Watch the conversation here:

About Art x America: Hawaii

We would like to say, Aloha, and welcome to our one day virtual event exploring the incredible world of Hawaiian life, art, and culture. This Saturday, November 21st we will be taking you on a journey with a panel of leadings professionals from the world of Hawaiian art. We will learn about traditional and contemporary movements serving to recognize the island’s native roots, while looking at artworks, cultural artifacts, and infrastructure influenced by the island’s pre- and post-colonial contact. 

As the northernmost tip of the vast Polynesian triangle of the south and central Pacific Ocean, Hawaii represents a unique melting pot of North American, Southeast Asian, East Asian, European cultures as well as its own indigenous identity. Hawaiian culture is extremely rich in its variety of art, music, literature, fashion and values. The archipelago’s array of natural scenery, wildlife, warm tropical climate, and crystal-clear waters has always made it a popular destination for sightseers, scientists, art enthusiasts and adventure seekers.  

Art prior to European colonial contact traces its roots back to the art of ancient Pacific Islander culture. This includes traditional koa wood carvings, petroglyphs, intricate feather artwork called “hulu manu”, the weaving of hala leaves known as “lauhala”, and “kapa”, fiber art created through the pounding of the wauke wood. 

The artists occupied a unique position within the framework of Hawaiian society and produced artworks that were both functional and attractive. The balance between practicality and beauty, utility and luxury is best encapsulated in the Hawaiian expression, “na hana noeau”, ‘meaning wise and skillful works’. Each work of art was meant to capture ‘the power of spirit’ of the gods, known as “mana”, which in turn would appease the Hawaiian deities and foster “pono” or ‘righteousness’. 

With the arrival of Westerners as well as East and Southeast Asian communities to the islands, Hawaiian artists gradually incorporated these foreign artistic traditions and materials into their preexisting artistic identity. These artworks are distinctly Hawaiian in their subject matter, however, Hawaiian artists experimented by integrating both non-native materials as well as new art production techniques into their works. 

Today, contemporary Hawaiian artists continually reference their rich cultural heritage for inspiration. Although their methods and ideas may have transformed over the years, Hawaiian artists continue to have a profound appreciation for draftsmanship, tradition, and an attention to detail.