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by Barbara Andrade, student writer
On Jan 28, the HPU Art Gallery honored two Honolulu artists, Derrick Arata and Lori Uyehara.
The show was organized by Sanit Khewhok, who has been HPU’s art gallery curator for 10 years, and who has hosted about 60 art exhibitions. Arata and Uyehara are University of Hawai‘i at Manoa graduates, and even took some courses from the same instructor during their college years – art lecturer Donald Dugal, who is still teaching art at UH-Manoa.

Khewhok said that both artists have “the eyes for detail.” He added that “both are good but different. Lori speaks of preservation, Derrick speaks politically.”

Uyehara is not new to HPU’s Art Gallery. She exhibited in the 1990s. Uyehara showcased all ceramic art pieces then, and now she exhibits work in mixed media wood, acrylic, ceramic, and fiber.
Uyehara has a B.F.A. and D. Ed degrees in fine art and education. She has taught art in the public school system since 1984 both as an art teacher and part of the Artists in the Schools Program. Uyehara has exhibited at the Academy Art Center, and the Contemporary Museum at First Hawaiian Center. Her work is included in collections of the Honolulu Academy of Arts, The Hawai‘i Start Art Museum, The State Foundation on Culture and Arts, and the State Department of Education; it is owned by private collectors in New Zealand, Japan, and the mainland.

Uyehara’s show at HPU is called Preservation “a visual discourse on the topic of conservation restoration, and fragility.”

“ My art,” she continued, “draws upon the diversity of the natural world and the complex relational systems that govern its evolution as a primary source of inspiration.”

It is strikingly beautiful from all angles. Her current exhibit is made of three- dimensional acrylic painting that is given depth through her use of wood, usually koa. As you admire Uyehara’s art pieces, many of them have koa wood implemented in her pieces.

Uyehara said she got started in wood art during the ‘90s. She had a good friend she said, who owned a wood carving studio, and noticed discarded pieces of wood, “thrown away because they were either a wrong piece, did not fit, were too small, or just didn’t fit the need,” said Uyehara.
It fit a need she didn’t even know she had, and she recycled the koa wood and used it in her paintings.

Uyehara’s attention to detail is found in every hand-carved piece, such as the Mushroom, which is made of old shipping pallets.

“ You don’t have to spend lots of money on materials,” Uyehara said, explaining that recycling materials helps preserve the environment.

“ Don’t let the materials rot in the landfills, but reuse them,” said Uyehara.

Items of History, by Derek Arata, “is a series of still-life paintings done in a traditional manner,” according to the artist’s explanation.

“ My works,” he continued, “depict current historical events through the symbolic references of the items within the scene. “

Arata obtained his B.F.A. in 1998 and his M.F.A. in 2005. His art has been exhibited at numerous shows since 1996: UH-M, the Japanese Chamber of Commerce, and the Hawai‘i USA Federal Credit Bank.

When asked to describe one of his paintings, Arata pointed out his Over the Hedge painting; this uses characters from the Disney film Over the Hedge to depict border issues in America.

Arata feels the general public should be aware of today’s current news issues. Arata said, “I try to target the general public by using pop culture and symbols in the paintings.”

One of his favorite pieces at the HPU gallery is Justification, which depicts the war in Iraq.
HPU senior, in International Relations, Janae Ohland of California, agrees with the content of Justification which she liked, “because of the big magnifying glass.”

It is on the country Iraq, and draws the viewer’s attention to the word “WMD,” reminding viewers that no WMD were found in Iraq.

“ It takes about two months to create a piece,” Arata said, adding that he is emotionally attached to it “only during the process of painting it. Then I release it when it is finished.”

The artwork will be displayed at HPU’s Hawai‘i Loa campus through March 9. Gallery hours are from Monday through Friday at 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Admission is free and the public is invited.
Visit Uyehara through her Web site at home.hawaii.rr.com/lufirebox.


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