My creative life showed up early in my dreams as a young child. I had a recurring dream, that ended when I was about five, of a stout tree growing up through the center of my hobbit house. I swoon over trees to this day. Trees are my celebrities! They show up in my art as portraits, in landscapes, interacting with the sky and clouds, as key features of ecosystems, and as generous hosts to the birds and insects of Hawaii.
Following the bread-crumb trail to my calling in art was a long twisty-turny journey. In college I had success with black and white photography, but let it go when my son was born. In 1997 I took a woodcut printmaking workshop, and knew instantly that I’d found my medium and lifelong passion. That was a well-spent weekend! I soon found a teacher, master printmaker Hiroki Morinoue, and over the next few years learned the art and craft of woodcut printmaking.
My focus on Hawaiian native species started with my fascination depicting the form and textures of plants, as I learned to create multiple-block woodcut prints. Then I began volunteering with conservation organizations and came to understand that Hawaii is unofficially known as the endangered species capitol of the world. When I grasped the scale of extinction occurring and the predictions for the future, I felt devastated. A strong desire to “malama,” the Hawaiian word for help, began to take root in my soul. As I planted trees and collected seeds, I listened to biologists, ornithologists and entomologists share what they know. A few years ago, I began collaborating to organize native species art exhibitions to support conservation organizations.
My art is really about conveying the essence of Hawaii that often goes unnoticed. Amid the bright plumeria, ginger and plethora of imported plants, the more modest ‘ohi’a, wiliwili, koa and ilima don’t always command admiration. Native birds, like the ‘i’iwi and apapane are often out of sight in their shrinking territories higher on the mountain, and hence, out of mind. It’s my passion and job description to notice, learn and share about these important species. I hope to do that in a way that’s fun and inspiring for you, as a visitor to my gallery.