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Diversity & commonality


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POSTED: Sunday, February 08, 2009

'WITHOUT showcasing emerging artists, the art community doesn't expand,”; says Toni Martin, director of Gallery Iolani, located on the Windward Community College campus.

It's reflective of Martin's longtime work that she holds this perspective: She's also an art professor at the college. In fact, her exposure to young artists over the years has endowed her with a fine sensibility for exceptional talent, and it's as a result of her curatorial efforts that four emerging artists are now exhibiting at Gallery Iolani.

“;Idiom,”; which runs through Feb. 20, features sculpture, photography, drawings and mixed-media works by Casey Flahaven, Malia Spotts, Jordan Souza and Bronson Shimabukuro.

MARTIN SAYS she was impressed with the artists individually and realized that although each artist was unique, the works of all four would be complementary together.

“;I thought it was worth putting this show together, with its diversity and power,”; she says. “;Even though the works are diverse, the artists share a common theme that deals with the human condition.”;

Indeed, in their artist statements, the four discuss connections between people, history and the responsibilities we carry for one another and the planet.

Spotts says her photography “;is inspired by pain and beauty I see in Hawaii and its diversity. ... I encourage myself to dig deeper and see things for what they really are.”; Her pieces convey the stark reality she ponders in her darkroom, where she “;had done a lot of thinking, praying and sorting.”;

Souza's work incorporates ancient symbols and forms to forward the cause of pushing “;native Hawaiian art forms into the future.”; He uses in his carving woods that would otherwise be discarded. Flahaven discusses how “;information technology has created a global responsibility,”; and Shimabukuro shares how he believes “;it is the responsibility of the artist to serve as a reflective mirror for the events that transpire ... throughout an artist's lifetime.”;

The artists of “;Idiom”; prove Martin's point about new talent, offering both quality fine art and food for thought.

Gallery Iolani is open 1 to 5 p.m. Tuesdays to Fridays and Sundays. Call 236-9155.