by: Diane Ako
KALIHI (KHNL) - Pa'a Ka La'a Animism and Totemism: Contemporary Expressions from an Indigenous Mind opens at Bishop Museum's Vestibule Gallery December 15, 2006 and remains on view through April 22, 2007. The invitational exhibition is curated and presented by the Hale Naua III Society of Hawaiian Arts of Hilo, Hawaii, in celebration of its 30th anniversary.
With this exhibition, Hale Nauä III begins a new journey into the world of traditional and conceptual contemporary art forms. The exhibition will showcase over two-dozen native artists, including Native Hawaiians, as well as indigenous artists from across the North American continent. Hale Nauä has reached across the Pacific to foster relationships with many of the nation's leading Native American artists, including Ed Archie Noisecat (Shuswap/Stlitlimx) and Phillip Charette (Yupik). According to directors Rocky and Lucia Jensen, the exhibition will powerfully illustrate the influences that Animism and Totemism, which are fundamental beliefs of all First Nation People, have on artistic expression. The exhibition will also include rare yaumakua images from the Bishop Museum's own unrivaled collection.
Says Bishop Museum project Manager Noelle Kahanu, "Paa Ka Laa embodies the native Hawaiian belief that all things are imbued with life: thunder and lightening and rain-laden clouds; the Hawaiian hawk that streaks through the sky and the moÿo (lizard) moves among the underbrush." Paa Ka Laa will also honor artist Leialoha Kanahele, who has been a member of Hale Naua III since 1976.
Maui-born, Leialoha Kanahele is a descendent of Alii Nui Kahekilinuiahumanu and Kahuna Nui Hewahewa. She received her formal training at Chouinard Art Institute in Los Angeles and at the Honolulu Academy of Arts. With Hale Naua III for 30 years, Kanahele has contributed to hundreds of exhibitions, in the islands and abroad. She has remained steadfast in the pursuit of making others aware of the esoteric meaning of her homeland. Her surreal landscapes of the Koolau Mountains evoke the time-honored indigenous traditions that all things have soul.
Kanahele's paintings are in the collection of the State Foundation on Culture and the Arts and in numerous corporate and private collections throughout the world. At 80, Kanahele is perhaps the organization's most esteemed member. She is currently on a quest to document Sacred Sites throughout Ka Pae Aina.