7 Degrees North: The Arts of Micronesia
August 21, 2023-November 24, 2023
Location: Bridge Gallery
7 Degrees North: The Arts of Micronesia on view August 21 - November 24, 2023, in UH Mānoa Hamilton Library
Honolulu (August 2023) – “7 Degrees North – The Arts of Micronesia,” an art exhibit at UH Mānoa’s Hamilton Library Bridge Gallery, features contemporary and traditional artwork by artists of Micronesian ancestry who live in Hawaiʻi. The exhibit debuted at the Downtown Art Center in Honolulu’s Chinatown in June 2023 and is now on view in Hamilton Library’s Bridge Gallery from August 21 - November 24, 2023. The curators of 7 Degrees North are Floyd K. Takeuchi, a writer-photographer who was born and raised in the Marshall Islands and Margo Vitarelli, a teaching artist and museum educator who grew up on Palau.
The exhibit is believed to be the first one in Honolulu to highlight the work of contemporary and traditional artists of Micronesian ancestry who live in Hawaiʻi. The works of art draw upon both traditional Micronesian motifs along with the multi-cultural environment of Hawaii. Among the contemporary artists are Lissette Yamase of Pohnpei in the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM), a portrait artist who uses charcoal; Anthony Watson, a carver of Palauan ancestry; Eric Cano, a graphic artist from Chuuk in the FSM, who designs Micronesian and Pacific Island inspired clothing; and Kalany Omengkar, a Palauan painter who draws on Micronesian stories for inspiration. The exhibition includes a video, courtesy of Kumu Kahua Theatre, of x Other: A Microstory by Hawaiʻi playwright Daniel A. Kelin II, who spent many years in the Marshall Islands.
The traditional artworks featured in the exhibit are made by Ruth Truce, a Palauan coconut basket weaver; Mona Kom, a mwarmwar (head lei) artist from Chuuk whose lei are in high demand; and the artists of Waipahu Safe Haven Center – Eola Lokebol, Komean Samson, Lanjen Nathan, Neribon Jorren, and Tarine Beaut. The works include exquisite handmade jewelry sets ornamented with rare shells from various atolls in Micronesia, handbags inspired by ammunition boxes, change purses, hair ornaments, hand fans, protocol items, and home decor. Natural fibers – coconut, hibiscus, and pandanus – embellished with rare shells comparable to Hawaiʻi’s Niʻihau shells, are beautifully woven into the designs.
Also, on display on the 5th floor in Hamilton Library’s Hawaiʻi Pacific Reading Room is “The Micronesians,” a photography exhibit that features nine women of Micronesian ancestry who are leaders in their respective fields. The photographs are by Floyd K. Takeuchi, an American writer-photographer who was born and raised in the Marshall Islands. The portraits feature nine women who all wear the distinctive “Micronesian skirt” that’s common in the Central Caroline Islands. Takeuchi asked the women to wear the skirt to challenge Hawaii residents’ attitudes toward Micronesians.
“Micronesia” is a cultural and geographic term referring to independent island nations and two U.S. territories in the northwestern Pacific. The countries include the Marshall Islands, the Federated States of Micronesia (which encompasses four states–Yap, Chuuk, Pohnpei and Kosrae–and about 607 islands), Palau, Nauru, Kiribati, the U.S. territory of Guam, and the U.S. commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands. Artwork in this exhibit comes primarily from the Marshall Islands, FSM, and Palau.
The exhibits are free and open to the public during Hamilton Library’s building hours (https://manoa.hawaii.edu/library/about/visiting-the-library/hours/). The Hawaiʻi & Pacific Reading is only open during the week. Thomas Hale Hamilton Library is located on 2550 The Mall, Honolulu, HI 96822, with street access and a bus stop (#13) on Maile Way. Parking on UH campus is free on Sundays (12:00 pm - 10:00 pm). 7 Degrees North will travel to Micronesia in the Spring of 2024 with the support of the Rotary Clubs of Hawaiʻi. View the exhibit before the end of the Fall semester on November 24, 2023.