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Solo Exhibition: Bernice Akamine

Hinaluaʻikoʻa & Kalo

August 3 – September 8, 2017
Kahilu Theatre Galleries

Opening Reception & Artist’s Walkthrough - Thursday August 3, 5-7pm
No host bar and light pupu will be on offer.
Artist Talk - Saturday August 19, 10:30am -11:30am
Coffee and light pastry will be on offer. 
Kahilu Exhibits presents a solo exhibition from the nationally recognized artist, Bernice Akamine, from August 3 – September 8, 2017. Work on display includes a new series of sculptures entitled Hinaluaʻikoʻa and her traveling installation Kalo.  
Ms. Akamine is a sculptor and installation artist based on Hawai‘i island, who uses a variety of media to express her ideas. Recurring themes in her work include environmental and cultural issues, as well as sovereignty, and the overthrow of the Hawaiian government. As a Hawaiian and an artist, Akamine feels it is her kuleana to use her voice to open doors for dialogue.

Her new work Hinaluaʻikoʻa presents an immersive environment of both suspended and free standing beaded sculptures. Traditional Hawaiian fish traps initially inspired the work, but it was also influenced by the political discord she heard on talk radio while working in her studio. Akamine noticed that the beading on the artwork was becoming tighter and tighter as the news seemed to escalate.


“Seeking a way to ease the tension I was feeling, I began looking at the ocean for its beauty: the ʻōkole, sea anemone; pololia, jellyfish; ʻakoʻakoʻa, coral; ʻūpī, sponge; wana and hāwaʻe, sea urchin; and limu, algae,” states Ms. Akamine. She began to read books, and visit both the coastline and the Waikiki Aquarium to learn more about these creatures. Through her research of their origin in Hawaiian culture, she found profound inspiration.

Ultimately Hinalua‘iko‘a is most informed by the Kumulipo, the Hawaiian Creation Chant. Of particular inspiration was the forward in the 1997 reprint of the Liliuokalani translation of The Kumulipo: An Hawaiian Creation Myth, written by Pualani Kanakaʻole Kanahele. "The Kumulipo is the reality of our dim past, the foundation for our present, and the pathway into the future. It is a cognizant reminder of our ancestors, their intelligence, failure, conquest, and defeat… It is our genealogy connecting mankind to earth and sky."

Also, for the first time in on view in Kamuela, is Akamine’s large scale traveling installation, Kalo, consisting of eighty-seven individual kalo plants 18" to 24" in height, made from stone (pōhaku) and newsprint. The installation was created with the support of the national nonprofit, the Native Arts and Cultures Foundation, and has traveled to Kauaʻi, Oʻahu, and Hawaiʻi Island.

The corm of each kalo is represented by a pōhaku, and the hā and lau is made of newsprint. Each page of Kūʻe: The Hui Aloha ʻAina Anti-Annexation Petitions 1897-1898 (Petitions) is printed on the back of the leaves, and the districts of each island represented in the Petitions is printed on the front. Community members from Kauaiʻi, Oʻahu, Maui, and Hawai’i Island donated the pōhaku used for the corm of the kalo plants. Each plant depicts one of the five islands represented in the Petitions: Kauaʻi, Oʻahu, Molokaʻi, Maui, and Hawa‘i Island. Says Akamine about the large scale work, “This installation is a non-confrontational way to remind Hawaiians to be proud of their stand for Indigenous sovereignty and to stand up and be counted once again, as there is still much to be done and still much that can be lost.”

Akamine earned an M.F.A. in the sculpture and glass program at the University of Hawai‘i and completed graduate work in natural resource management at Central Washington University. She is also a cultural practitioner with deep roots in Kapa and waiho‘olu‘u, Hawaiian natural dyes. Her grandmother, Kaha Halela‘au, was a kahuna la‘au lapa‘au, a traditional Hawaiian healer descended from generations of healers, and her mother, Audrey Elliott was a lauhala weaver. Akamine has exhibited her work in numerous solo and group exhibitions, both nationally and internationally. Her work is in the permanent collection of such public institutions as the Peabody Essex Museum in Massachusetts; the Hawai‘i State Foundation on Culture and the Arts; Wright State University Art Galleries, Dayton, Ohio; the Portland Art Museum, Oregon; and American Museum of Natural History, New York City. Akamine received a 2015 Native Hawaiian Artist Fellowship from the Native Arts and Cultures Foundation; a Community Scholar Award from the Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of Natural History, 2012; an Award of Excellence, Fiber Hawaii 2003; and was a Visiting Artist at the Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of the American Indian in New York City, 1999.

Kahilu Galleries are free and open to the public Monday thru Friday, from 9am – 1pm, and during all performances. For more information, visit www.kahilutheatre.org or call (808) 885-6868.


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