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Posts Tagged ‘Kamakakuokalani’

Just mauka of Pauahi St. on Nu’uanu, was a small gallery,  Nu’uanu Gallery at Mark’s Garage. Prof. Maile Andrade, who is officially titled Graduate Chair, Associate Professor, Kamakakuokalani Center for Hawaiian Studies, curated a show called Invasive Species in May 2008, as part of Maoli Arts Month.  I write “officially” because in addition to her academic achievements, Maile is a resolute force for contemporary art from a Hawaiian (indigenous) perspective–and an outrageously talented artist herself.  She has a wicked and very Hawaiian sense of humor– there are layers of meaning.  It was a powerful, thought provoking show of contemporary art, much of it by students addressing the effect of imposed cultures on native ones.

Invasive Species exhibition at Nu'uanu Gallery photo: Maile Andrade

My favorite piece in the show is one of Maile’s titled Hawaiian at Heart–whose genealogy did you steal?.  It’s the second from the top on the left, with the heart shaped windows.  Each one of the windows looks tongue-in-cheek  at justifications non-Hawaiians use to claim Hawaiian-ness.  “I have lots of gold bracelets–they all say Ku’uipo,” “I paddle–and we won states,” ” I look Hawaiian–I am brown.”   The best is:  “We are all Hawaiians–where’s the aloha?”.   The piece is a fertile  lo’i of issues, and in future blogs, more korms will likely surface.

Invasive Species transformed the word ‘mainland’  from benign to malignant. Years ago my brother started saying “America” when referring to the continental US.  I liked it, and frequently used it.  Standing in a room crowded with artwork, beautifully expressing anger and frustration in creative ways, multiplied the impact. Every time since then I’ve  heard, seen, or even worse, said ‘mainland’, I’ve  felt it.  “It ain’t my mainland” gave rise to the corollary, Hawai’i is My Mainland as this blog’s title.

Like an invasive species, the ubiquitous description ‘mainland’  has infested local vocabulary. People who have never left the Hawaiian Islands will call America the ‘mainland’.  Every time I say ‘mainland’, and mean the continental US, it’s a lie.  OHA Trustee Judge Walter Heen uses “the continent.”  It sounds so elegant,  he makes my day.

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