January 29, 2019
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Kini ke Kua: Transformative Images
Bishop Museum original exhibition explores relationships between kiʻi (images) and people
Honolulu, Hawaiʻi – In less than a month, Bernice Pauahi Bishop Museum will showcase its newest original exhibit, which will explore the relationships between kiʻi (images) and people. “Kini ke Kua: Transformative Images” will invite guests to engage with rare and treasured objects from the museum’s collections and from around the Pacific, in addition to new works from a contemporary indigenous artist specially commissioned for “Kini ke Kua.” This multifaceted presentation will encourage guests to carve their own paths in relationship to these revered objects and art forms. The exhibit will be on display in the Joseph M. Long Gallery from Feb. 16–Sept. 2, 2019.
Ki‘i, which refers to images in the Hawaiian language, are a cornerstone of Hawaiian spirituality and can take many forms. Fashioned from wood, stone and other natural materials, ki‘i become embodiments of deity: representations of akua (gods) and ʻaumākua (personal or family guardians). This exhibit will explore some of the ways in which relationships between kiʻi and people may change over time, how some of those changes have occurred, and to what extent such transformations shaped and reshaped images in different times and contexts.
At the center of this exhibition will be a kiʻi gifted to Bishop Museum by Marc and Lynne Benioff in March of 2018. The wooden image will serve as the focal point of the exhibit, and will contribute to the larger dialogue about relationships, spirituality and kiʻi in Hawaiʻi and as they move through the world. The gifted kiʻi will be presented in conversation with rarely-seen historical collections from Bishop Museum. Included in the exhibit will be an original ink and watercolor drawing from Bishop Museum’s Archives by John Webber (1751–1793), the artist on Captain James Cook’s third and final voyage to the Pacific. An Offering before Captain Cook in the Sandwich Islands, which was later made into engravings and widely distributed in published accounts of the voyage, is one of the first two-dimensional representations of kiʻi.
To further enrich the visitor’s understanding of these images through contemporary indigenous lenses, Bishop Museum invited the Hawaiian carving collective Kūpāʻaikeʻe and the renowned Māori artist Lyonel Grant (of the Ngāti Pikiao and Te Arawa tribes) to present works never previously displayed in a museum setting, and tying present, past and future makers and image shapers together. Looking at the practice of carving and the newly acquired ki‘i through other media, the Hawaiian visual artist, musician and genealogist Douglas Poʻoloa Tolentino was also commissioned by the museum to create four pieces inspired by the collections that explore the relationships between ki‘i and kanaka (people).
For more information about “Kini ke Kua: Transformative Images,” visit www.BishopMuseum.org/Kini-ke-Kua. Bishop Museum sincerely thanks Marc and Lynne Benioff for making this exhibition possible.
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