My house and art studio are encircled by koa and ohi’a, along with many other native plant species. As I wake and work throughout the day, I am immersed in the sound of birds and blanketed by leaf shadows which lead me to explore themes of biology, history, and mythology of the native forest, as I observe and reflect on the human connection to and impact on the natural environment. This body of work was inspired in part by a book published in 2003, titled “Wao Akua, Sacred Source of Life”.
I am drawn repeatedly to an essay titled “Inventory of a Koa”, which describes in vivid detail, a koa tree that the writer has visited over many years, observing it’s changes and growth. It is host to “all sorts of organisms” including epiphytes … ferns, lichen, mosses, mold, fungi, birds, bugs. “A unique treasure chest of the forest. Its existence provides for a richness of life that is uniquely Hawaiian.” As I read this essay over and over in my studio it gives me a deeper sense of place and belonging, albeit an epiphytic one.
In the mixed media Wao Akua paintings, I combine repeated use of thread and string layering with images of the forest, referencing string games and divination practices common in many indigenous cultures to foretell the future. I am interested in human faith in the supernatural and the wao akua was an upland forest division of Hawai’i, the realm of the gods…the trees being the physical manifestation of this spiritual realm.
Media:Archival inket transfer on wood panel, epoxy resin, enamel and acrylic paint, thread, powdered pigment. Works range in size from 12″ x 16″ – to 40″ x 76″ inches.