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UH graduate art students use
"Instance"Works by graduate students of the University of Hawaii-Manoa Department of Art and Art History
Where: University of Hawaii Art Gallery, in the Art Building
Hours: Noon to 4 p.m. today, 10:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday
JACOB JACKSON calls "Instance" a collection of works "that represent our best efforts, what we'd like to say about the world around us." Jackson's contribution utilizes photo transfer techniques on a series of five ceramic pieces that bear images of tiki and palm trees. His untitled series explores the question, What is Hawaiian culture today?
"I live across the Polynesian Cultural Center, and I see tourists posing with these huge tiki made of Styrofoam," Jackson says. "These figures used to represent gods at one point, and now they're just tacky."
A ceramics major, Jackson works in other materials as well, but he decided ceramics best serves the statement he's trying to make.
"When you look at clay, you can sense the history about it because it is an old art form," he says. "This (work) deals with history, so I thought it was appropriate."
The tiki and trees on the ceramics are in some instances barely decipherable, which Jackson says is his attempt to turn the images into abstractions. "It's (addressing) the evolution of the meaning of palm trees and tiki -- the most typical iconic images of Hawaii -- through time," he says.
"I'm looking at the ground between the sacred and the profane."
"I wondered what Kennedy would think" about what's happening with our country today, Ness says.
The artist conveys the fragility of our economy, and our country, through "the fragile medium of glass."
The oil, a multifaceted reference to the war in Iraq and its connection to our economy, possesses reflective qualities, representing "how translucent our economy is these days," Ness says. "You can see the whole piece reflected when you peer into the oil. It's a reflection of our own morals and ideals as a nation."
The paradise construct "examines what we are being fed (culturally)," she says. "It has been the subject of my work for a long time."
For "Chocolate Dove," Kukahiko covers a wall with touristy postcards of sunsets. On a nearby table, she displays a hula girl cast in chocolate. Next to the figure is a candy tray offering visitors chopped-up pieces of chocolate hula girl, some with macadamia nuts, others with slices of dried mango. Some chunks are recognizable body parts of the hula girl; others are too difficult to make out.
Kukahiko says the mango is a reference to Gauguin, who "served up native feminine sexuality in his work."
"When people are selecting the candy, they stay on the video longer," Kukahiko laughs. "I'm still casting chocolate every night."
Kukahiko made the mold of the hula girls herself. "I bought a hula girl statue in Waikiki. The label says she was 'cast in simulated lava,' which means plastic," she says with a grin. "I made a mold out of rubber from it."
Kukahiko says the ideas for her installation came after she couldn't get a hapa-haole Hawaiian song out of her mind. "The title was something like 'I Fell in Love with a Hapa-Haole Hula Girl,'" she says. One of her responses to the song was to address "hybridization" through the use of both dark and light chocolates to cast the hula girls.
While Kukahiko is getting plenty of mileage out of the hula girl mold, one wonders what she would possibly do with all those postcards.
"Maybe I'll mail them out to some unsuspecting friend in some underhanded way," she says, laughing. "I'll accost them with it."