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State Art Museum opens island culture

by Jillian Nicole Lynes, staff writer

 

One of the best things about coming to Hawai‘i Pacific University is the opportunity to learn about Hawaiian culture. Many students do this through taking a Hawaiian language course or a traditional hula dancing class. These are great ways of experiencing Hawaiian culture. Perhaps culture is presented most accurately through art.

The Hawai‘i State Art Museum (HiSAM), located at 250 South Hotel Street in downtown Honolulu, houses various art pieces from Hawai‘i’s past and present by local artists of all races. Due to Hawai‘i’s unique geographical location, there are influences of Pacific Island as well as Asian cultures in some of the art. Since its opening to the public Nov. 3, 2002, the museum has displayed these works to promote the education and cultural enrichment of the island’s people.

 

Currently, the art that graces this 132-year-old building is the museum’s inaugural exhibition, Enriched by Diversity: The Art of Hawai‘i. This exhibition has 360 works by 284 artists and celebrates a prolific artistic and cultural tradition. While the museum’s collection dates from the late-19th century, the works in the exhibit date from the 1960s to the present.

Visitors to the exhibition will find more than just paintings. As art goes beyond paint and canvas, so does the exhibit, which includes photographs, sculptures, and jewelry. It is through the diverse materials and numerous styles that Hawai‘i’s diversity and creativity are represented.

One of the most interesting pieces was a photograph by Francis Haar, entitled ‘Iolani Luahine, 1961. It is of a Hawaiian woman decked with ceremonial leis, eyes closed as if in prayer or chant, a practice not uncommon among ancient Hawaiians or even at some very formal events for local Hawaiians today. This piece demonstrates the very spiritual nature of Hawaiian culture.

If you think Hawai‘i is awesome, and if you are here for more than just the great surf and beautiful beaches, you will fully understand the islands when you taste, experience, and enlarge your understanding of the beauty of Hawaiian culture.

 

2004, Kalamalama, the HPU Student Newspaper. All rights reserved.
 
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