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Arts & Culture

Inspiring crafts from around the state featured in Hawaiʻi Craftsmen exhibition

Since 1967 the Hawaiʻi Craftsmen exhibition has built a reputation for fine work in clay, wood, metal, fiber and others arts. Nationally recognized jurors are selected to curate the show.

This year's juror is Angelik Vizcarrondo-Laboy, a curator, writer and arts administrator based in New York City and Los Angeles.

She focuses on ceramics, with connections to contemporary arts and crafts nationally. She says there has been a shift away from modernist minimalism in the art world.

A HC Daven Hee 2021.jpg
Noe Tanigawa
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Daven Hee. rainbow huggable pot. This glaze application by Hee an example of maximalism? Winner of the Charles E. Higa Memorial Award of Excellence

"Maximalism is it, at the moment," says Vizcarrondo-Laboy, "But especially in clay, I think itʻs showing up a lot."

At this year’s show, you'll find examples of maximalism, or the idea that excess, or more, really is more.

"I think there's a lot of work about anxiety too," says Vizcarrondo-Laboy, "Which is not surprising with the times we're in."

A HC Linda Kane Kiʻai.jpg
Noe Tanigawa
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Linda Kane. Kiaʻi.

Vizcarrondo-Laboy says nature and anxiety were common themes in the work she saw here. In contemporary art generally, she says, anxiety, even activism, is finding new outlets.

"I think there's actually something very powerful about subversively addressing issues through things like humor, joy, leisure, things like that," says Vizcarrondo-Laboy. "I think there's a lot of power in that, actually."

Every year Hawaiʻi Craftsmen send their juror statewide to examine artwork in person, and exchange with neighbor island communities.

It was Vizcarrondo-Laboy's first encounter with kapa, the Hawaiian cloth made from plant fibers. She says she was surprised by the amount and variety of featherwork.

"I've tried to pull the best from what is in front of me, but also try to find connections between the work," says Vizcarrondo-Laboy. "I believe that curating is about storytelling, so I'm trying to find those connections."

The Hawaiʻi Craftsmen Annual Juried Exhibition runs through Nov. 19, 2021, at the Downtown Art Center. Hours are 11 to 6, Wednesdays through Sundays. Admission is free.

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