Pa’i Foundation Gallery at Kālia is an enclave for Native Hawaiian art at the center of the mall level at Ala Moana Center. They’ve made it easy to catch the MAMo Juried Exhibit of ceramics, glass, paintings, photographs, wearable art, and more. HPR’s Noe Tanigawa reports.
The 3rd Annual MAMo Juried Art Exhibit continues at Ala Moana Center through July 5th in the Pa’i Foundation Gallery at Kālia.
The opening of the 2017 MAMo Juried Art Exhibit was a good night for Kamehameha senior Jonathan Ah Sing. Not only was he accepted in a juried show with others much more experienced, he took a second place award. Ah Sing discovered a passion for clay, and founded Makawalu Ceramics to take his ideas further.
Ah Sing: It’s been a growing passion intertwining culture, clay and just mana-ful creations. That’s what we’re about. Proliferating Native Hawaiian art, sharing it with others, and just watching it evolve for the future generations. That’s what we’re all about.
You've achieved a high level of proficiency in such varied forms of ceramics, really strong, organic looking raku pieces alongside large, highly tailored forms.
Ah Sing: I have to give all the credit to my incredible mentors, Carl Pao, Donald Harvey, and Reid Shigezawa (of Kamehameha Schools.) And a lot of hours, the wheel is the greatest master. I always say that. The greatest kumu, Nānā I ke kumu, that’s the source right there. Practice. And it’s just putting your passion into it, adding your own style, adding your own technique. Moving the clay, shaping it to your message, making a vessel that will be bold and share those feelings with others. It’s your own expression, your artistic expression.
Are you one of those potters who has the pot in your head before you start?
Ah Sing: I like to think that a lot of my pieces are born instead of created. Ceramics is an incredible form of art because you’re putting your breath into the pot, you’re putting the water into the pot, it’s earth, and it’s fire when you put into the kiln. So all of those elements coming together and fusing together. You can kind of steer the whole piece to where you want to go but in the end it’s just up to the akua, up to the universal mana, yeah, it’s crazy!
Ceramics are known for their utility, and you seem to be adding another layer to the package with your surface decoration and titles.
Ah Sing: Our kūpuna tell us stories, right? We grew up hearing their stories, their mo‘olelo. But when we become kūpuna, what are the stories our keiki going to give on? So it’s our responsibility. A living breathing, evolving culture will constantly be creating new mo‘olelo, new stories to tell.
Ah Sing: Me and my friend Vance, have created a story telling an epic of the starlines, Pacific navigation. So it’s about creating new stories, taking those stories, and sharing them with others through the artwork. The pieces in the Pa'i Gallery are part of the story.
Ah Sing created large double lobed gourd shapes for the MAMo show, incising them with geometric shapes in black and raw earthenware.
Ah Sing: Ceramics is an incredible form of art because you’re putting your breath into the pot, you’re putting the water into the pot, it’s earth, and it’s fire when you put into the kiln. So all of those elements coming together and fusing together. You can kind of steer the whole piece to where you want to go but in the end it’s just up to the akua, up to the universal mana, yeah, it’s crazy!
Ceramics by Kainoa Mākua, also a stand out in the MAMo show, plus new graphics on metal by Meleanna Meyer, Nelson Mākua’s digital paintings, gourds by Tamsen Fox, jewelry by Tara Gumapac, glass by Bernice Akamine, plus fashion, amazing hats, photographs and more.
This show was juried by the MAMo Master Artist Awardees, whose works are on view at Marks Garage through July 5, 2017. This year's Awardees are: kapa artist Moana Eisley; Umi Kai, a specialist in Native Hawaiian weapons and tools; and painter, historian Brook Parker.