Two Maui artists have been selected to create new artworks for Honolulu Museum of Art’s (HoMA) upcoming exhibition, Artists of Hawai’i 2020. Both Gwen Arkin and Andy Behrle will be inspired by traditional methods in the creation of cutting edge artworks that investigate burning issues in Hawai’i.
Arkin has been a mainstay in the Maui art community for years and teaches photography and design at the University of Hawai‘i, Maui College. Behrle arrived in the islands a little more than a year ago and has been creating site-specific video installations around the world during the past decade.
Arkin will address the issue of climate change and global warming by using cyanotype, a primitive photographic process, to create images of threatened species of edible algae (limu) native to Hawaiian waters.
Behrle’s project will re-imagine a Hawaiian Flag Quilt from HoMA’s collection using digital video footage of the waters of the eight major Hawaiian Islands. In many ways, this new artwork will be similar to his 2019 lost and found public art project for Wailuku’s Small Town Big Art initiative. Last September, Behrle projected his re-creation of a window from Wailuku’s Saint Anthony’s church lost to arson in 1977 onto the side of Historic Iao Theater during September’s First Friday celebration
While HoMA’s triennial Artists of Hawai‘i exhibition has solidified the tradition of showcasing talented Hawai‘i-based artists through a contemporary lens, the 2020 exhibition roster pushes the envelope through its diversity of artistic background, subject and range. Encouraged to explore the urgent issues of our time and place, a dynamic group of artists was chosen by co-curators Marlene Siu, exhibition manager at HoMA School, and Taylour Chang, curator of film and performance, following the exhibition’s open-call submission process. “The artists selected for Artists of Hawaiʻi 2020 encompass a broad spectrum of levels within their artistic careers: from emerging artists who have never shown before to artists who are featured in national and international collections that are unified through their bold voices and innovative practices,” said Siu.
The topics expressed through the artwork will bring to the forefront the timely and controversial issues that face the people of Hawai‘i, and touch the rest of the world. “With these twenty artists, we couldn’t have asked for a more boundary-pushing line-up of visionaries and community leaders,” said Chang.
[Disclosure: Suzanne Kayian also works for Councilmember Kelly King]