Sharisse Maluina is a student a Leeward Community College. She was inspired to paint her the owl because the pueo is her family ‘aumakua. When she was young, she had a dream of being in a forest where a small dark brown owl was staring at her. At the time she assumed the dream represented a visit by an ancestor. Years later she realized that the dream representing a warning to stay focused on her lifeʻs path. The owl in her painting, with its intense stare, is how she saw the ‘aumakua in her dream. Her painting, ʻAumakua, is featured in the Artist Showcase.
Stephanie Loke Schoening is an artist who currently lives in Kapolei. Originally from ‘Aiea, she is a graduate of the Kamehameha Schools and attended Leeward Community College, where she took art and Hawaiian language classes. Health issues prevented her from returning to school, but she says that in a way, these challenges unleashed her creativity. She is particularly grateful to the art program at the Kroc Center, which she calls an important resource for the West Side and, most especially, for the huge Native Hawaiian population of the area. Her paintings, Home and Nene, are featured in the Artist Showcase (photo by ʻIokepa Badis)
Jordan Iolakana Paguirigan moved to Oʻahu from California in 2012, and it was not until he moved to Oʻahu where his knowledge and love of all things Hawaiian began to grow. Wanting to learn more of his parents’ culture, he immersed himself in as many Hawaiian classes: ʻōlelo Hawaiʻi, Hawaiian mythology, even native plants. This painting is a visual representation of his journey, my huakaʻi. The black and white portion represents life in California, void of Hawaiian culture. The color portion is his growing love of all things Hawaiian and his journey through college. The whale, which travels long distances together to reach their destination, is symbolic of his family. The row of shark teeth represents protection and the trials that he overcame. The two plants represent his love of the ʻāina and a familial relationship that Hawaiian people have to the ʻāina in which they live in. The kalo plant represents caring for the ʻāina and his first experience in making and tasting paʻiʻai, and in understanding our relationship with Hāloa. Finally, in the background, is a picture of his favorite beach in Waimānalo, Oʻahu. Ka Huakaʻi won a first place Ka ʻUmeke Kāʻeo Native Hawaiian Writing and Arts Achievement Award.
Robin Puahala (click here to see a video interview) decided to go back to school to impact the students that he coaches through teaching as well. He realized that he can help shape the future of students and went for a career change. His art represents the most important people and things in his life. It was only when his Hawaiian Studies kumu required a project that he realized that his life choices have been very much influenced by his Hawaiian culture. His collage displays his family name in the center to show honor for his ancestors. There are photos of the native Hawaiian plants in my garden as well as things that he displays or wears that represent his Hawaiian ethnicity. However, the most precious photo shows his first born son holding the Hawaiian flag. Pin-A-Hawaiian won notable Ka ʻUmeke Kāʻeo Native Hawaiian Writing and Arts Achievement Award honors. (video by Rokki Midro)
K. Kekeikikonapiliahiʻokekai Mar (click here to see a video interview) is an avid outdoorsman, artist, and entrepreneur. Kekai earned a certificate in videoproduction from Leeward Community College and holds degrees in New Media arts animation from Kapi’olani CC and a double bachelor degree anthropology and resource management and conservation from the University of Hawai’i – Månoa. He’s currently working for the Academic Subject Certificate in Hawaiian Studies and learning to sail wa’a through its Polynesian voyage seamanship course. His design represents the connectedness of natural and cultural resources. Indeed, Kekaiʻs goal is to merge culture, environment, and art through his job at the State Department of Land and Natural Resources. Kanaloa won a notable Ka ʻUmeke Kāʻeo Native Hawaiian Writing and Arts Achievement Awards honor.
Neil Chan (no photo provided) describes Identity Theft this way: a mini series of graphic illustrations depicting western/industrial influence. Each combines a subject of Hawaiian-relation within modern day pop culture. It is series depicting control, a system, and questioning: what room is there for culture and diversity when you’re being assimilated into a system? The message? Change is inevitable. Things will come and go, like it or not. However, in adoption of the new, you must find ways to preserve and share the old. Without culture, or diversity, there is only a system. And to be a system is to be a machine. Differences make us human.” Identity Theft by Neil Chan won a top art Ka ʻUmeke Kāʻeo Native Hawaiian Achievement Award.