The national Native Arts and Cultures Foundation(NACF) has awarded fellowships to three Big Island Kanaka Maoli artists. Robi Kahakalau and Kaumakaiwa Kanakaole have won awards for music. Bernice Akamine, who is from O‘ahu but now lives on Hawai‘i, Island, received an award for visual arts.
The fellowships recognize native artists whose works to date exemplify great strength and creativity in the fields of visual arts, dance, music, and traditional arts. Over 150 artists applied for the fellowships in the state this year; 12 fellowships were awarded.
“NACF is proud to be honoring twelve talented k?naka maoli. The rigor and commitment reflected in their body of work–and in all the work we reviewed–made me wish we could have given awards to every one of the applicants,” said Lulani Arquette who is Native Hawaiian and the President/CEO of NACF.
Kahakalau, a N? H?k? Hanohano award-winning singer and musician, will use her fellowship to compose a collection of music and an accompanying curriculum to teach Native Hawaiian pre-school age children language and heritage through music. This “Music Energizes Language Education” (MELE) collection will include a teaching module for 20 Native Hawaiian language songs focused on specific topics.
Janaka‘ole, an openly transgender recording artist and kumu hula, grounded in the traditions of hula and ha‘a, composes mele oli, and choreographs performances for H?lau O Kekuhi. Her fellowship will allow the N? H?k? Hanohano award winning performer to create a series of hula and ha‘a presentations based on the rituals of the goddess Pele tradition from the Malaeha’aho’a text. She will choreograph, collaborate, and compose new chant verses and stage presentations with her family that will be ready to tour in 2016.
Akamine is known for the abstract glass sculptures and vessels she creates with smooth flowing lines, often covered with a form-fitted skin of texture and color. She will use her fellowship to complete Kalo, a traveling installation of 79 plants made of stone and newsprint to be exhibited in honor of Queen Lili‘uokalani of Hawai’i. A kumu in the methods of creating and using waiho‘olu‘u, or natural plant dyes, and beaten-bark kapa cloth, the artist will create newsprint petals on each plant featuring handwritten renditions of each island’s Native boundaries or ahupua‘a on one side, with copies of the hundreds of signed petitions against the U.S. annexation of Hawaii on the other. After exhibiting in Hawai’i and beyond, the artist will give the plants to the 23 listed Homestead Associations and 10 Native Hawaiian centers in community colleges and universities across the state.