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UH Manoa Art Students Self-Fund Graduation Exhibition at Downtown Art Center

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Noe Tanigawa
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Metal and mixed media by Malia Holubeck

Due to the pandemic, many exhibitions normally held on the University of Hawaii Manoa campus migrated online in 2020 and through the first semester of 2021. In a bold move, about 30 Bachelor of Fine Arts students raised money through crowdfunding for a graduation exhibition, "Turning the Key," at the Downtown Art Center.

The 2020-21 UH Manoa BFA show is worth a visit. You find yourself saying, "What is that?" About pea-sized ceramic beads that are linked like tiny bones into organic shapes across the wall--by Karen Fuentes. 

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Credit Noe Tanigawa
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Ceramics by Karen Fuentes

Also, when you see Sam Mahoney's gaga totems---big menacing cartoon heads--they seem to be saying, "Have a beer."

Definitely, Malia Holubeck's devices elicit a "Wha?" Holubeck's work stems from an assignment in a metalworking class---design something useful.

"I decided to make something that would help me smile because I have depression, major depressive disorder, and there's this symptom of depression not a lot of people talk about called psychomotor retardation," she said. "Just a fancy way of saying that when you get really sad it can get hard to move, so it's physically difficult to smile, even if I'm feeling okay."

Holubeck's corrective device, called Smile Support, was meant to reassure people. But is, in fact, alarming for others when worn. Another piece, Holding My Tongue, is also thought-provoking. Holubeck, an art and psychology double major, says working with metal has been a fruitful way to figure things out.

"With metal, just by virtue of working with a physical object very intimately and very closely over a long period of time, for me, at least, lent itself to turning inward," Holubeck said. 

"It's so engaging, and then using it to come to these realizations has been really helpful. I think I'm already in a much better place than where I was when I started making these things." 

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Credit Noe Tanigawa
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Ceramic by Sam Mahoney

The UH Manoa 2020-21 BFA exhibition continues at the Downtown Art Center through May 31, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily. 

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