Affirmation and Resistance: ʻAi Pōhaku, Stone Eaters – Sovereignty and Contemporary Native Hawaiian Art

by | Feb 15, 2023 | Coe Collaborations

Special Collaboration: Coe Center x IAIA

Collaborations Across the Globe

The Coe and the IAIA MFA Studio Arts Program collaborated on February 24, 2023, to host an important discussion among artists, curators, and educators. Participants came together from the mainland United States and Hawaii via Zoom to discuss how the Kāhaka (Native Hawaiian) can begin to become an integral part of the fabric of the University of Hawaii system, especially the University of Hawaii-Mānoa. Heidi Brandow (Diné/Kānaka Maoli), the Coe’s Adjunct Curator/Artist Liaison and MFASA Faculty at IAIA, moderated a robust and frank conversation about the exclusion of Kāhaka faculty in the Department of Art and Art History at the University of Hawaii-Mānoa and how this negatively affects the Kānaka communities. The participating curators and artists were: Drew Kahuʻāina Broderick (Kanaka ʻŌiwi), Noelle M. K. Y. Kahanu (Kanaka ʻŌiwi), Josh Tengan (Kanaka ʻŌiwi), Kaili Chun (Kānaka Maoli), and Kapulani Landgraf (Kānaka Maoli)

Mario Caro, Ph.D., the Director of the IAIA MFA Studio Arts Program, proposed the idea of this collaboration between our institutions. Building upon past Coe collaborations with other organizations via Zoom, Caro asked the Coe to host the program using a similar platform that was casual yet conducive to meaningful engagement amongst the various constituents. 

The title of the discussion and exhibition was, The Time for Resistance and Persistence: ʻAi Pōhaku, Stone Eaters – The Sovereignty of Contemporary Native Hawaiian Art.’ Both highlighted the disparity or dearth of Kāhaka faculty at the University of Hawaii. Artists explained their intention to create an awareness of the discriminatory legacy of the university. The curators shared perspectives on how they design exhibits that are more inclusive and elevate Kāhaka work. 

Our collaboration was a great success and an opportunity for stifled voices to be heard. The Coe is committed to collaborations like this that emphasize Indigenous arts are not just ethnographic objects. Instead, they are fine art that teaches us about the world’s cultures and unties historical strings that have bound Indigenous art. We look forward to continuing collaborations like this. We thank Mario Caro and Heidi Brandow for allowing us to participate in such a meaningful and informative program that will hopefully serve as a catalyst for change and, at the very least, keep a conversation alive.

The Zoom meeting was recorded and edited by Heidi Brandow for viewing on the Coe’s YouTube channel.

Artists, educators, and community members gather at the center of ʻAi Pōhaku, Stone Eaters, within the Art Gallery of the Department of Art and Art History, University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa.

Friday, February 24th
9-11 AM HST
12-2PM MST

Please join the Coe Center and the MFA in Studio Arts Program at the Institute of American Indian Arts for a discussion of ʻAi Pōhaku, Stone Eaters, a radical exhibition that recently opened at the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa addressing the exclusion of Kānaka worldviews from academia in general, and specifically within the university’s Department of Art and Art History, as well as an overall lack of institutional support for Kānaka art across the Islands.

  • Curators
    • Drew Kahuʻāina Broderick (Kanaka ʻŌiwi)
    • Noelle M. K. Y. Kahanu (Kanaka ʻŌiwi)
    • Josh Tengan (Kanaka ʻŌiwi)
  • Representative Artists
    • Kaili Chun (Kānaka Maoli)
    • Kapulani Landgraf (Kānaka Maoli)
  • Moderated by Heidi K. Brandow (Diné and Kānaka Maoli), MFASA Faculty at IAIA and Guest Curator & Artist Liaison at the Coe Center.

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