Native Hawaiian artist Nanea Lum is based in Honolulu. Her research-based practice ranges from kapa (Hawaiian wauke beaten bark fiber materials) to large scale oil paintings.


Nanea Lum paints as a way to express the world from the experience of Kānaka in Hawaii. She states: “Painting is my third language after English, and Hawaiian, but it is the one that I practice at the most.” Her process-based practice ranges from kapa to large scale oil paintings, and it often presents abstract land, body, and ocean-scapes. To best understand why Nanea is painting it is important to hear what she has to say, in her own words, in reference to the place she is deeply connected with and how she interacts with that place through the artform of painting. Here is Nanea:

“Mānoa valley in its geographic and biological formation is a home and birthplace of Hawaiian culture, known through oral histories as a wahi pana (a living cultural landmark). Mānoa means to be numerous, intensely dark, & dense. The Mānoa ‘ahupua’a (land division) has connection to Waikiki through the streams that flow mauka to makai (from mountain to ocean). The wai (fresh water) that flows from the waterfalls of Naniuapo, Lua’alaea, Waiakeakua is the life essential element collected and disbursed by the ‘āina. My painting process begins with mapping these places. I interact by my modern means, driving to the back of the valley, to visit places that have a thousand year cultural significance. I bring myself to these waters to find out the reason why I paint, I find the reasoning why I exist.

“A canvas is the object that is offered to the earth first, this gesture is a means to a communication process. I place it in the ground, in the new moon phase, opening the process, the protocols of ceremony commence until the waning phase of that moon is to begin. The pohaku of Mānoa found in the stream bed are densely compacted clay rocks. I collect pigments for paint from these rocks. Interaction and through giving shared forms of materials between us, myself, and the ‘āina, we are sharing an extended experience of communication.”



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