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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Sunday, May 23, 2004

Show hails Handweavers Hui

By Victoria Gail-White
Special to The Advertiser

 •  '50: Interpreted'

Hawai'i Handweavers' Hui 25th Biennial Exhibition

10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday

1 to 5 p.m. Sundays

Through May 30

Academy Art Center

There are not quite 50 artists in the "50: Interpreted" biennial exhibition of the Hawai'i Hand-weavers Hui at the Academy Art Center, juried by the husband-and-wife team of Carol Doran-Khewhok and Sanit Khewhok. Carol is the center's curator and Sanit is the collections manager for The Contemporary Museum.

The prospectus for the exhibit states: "The concept of 50 must be used in the piece in some manner, i.e., 50 epi (ends per inch), 50 colors, 50 hours to create, etc. All media are acceptable and encouraged, though some part of the piece must be handwoven by the artist."

It is unclear how some of these pieces could have made it past the jurying process when they do not meet the handweaving and "50" criteria, but they are few. For the most part, the woven aspect of the show was met, as well as the concept of 50. And 50 is interpreted in innumerable ways — knots, rectangles, T-shirts, handspun fibers, red keys and twist ties, ripples, horsehairs, patches, pages and bullet casings — to name a few.

Artists' statements, posted beside the works (relating processes and ideas), make it easier to comprehend the details in the work.

The grand dame of the hui, founding and 50-year member Jean J. Williams, has two large hanging, sculpturally woven works in the exhibit, the earthy "He'e" and the brightly colored "Untitled."

The exhibit is a showcase of talented and imaginative local weavers and artists, both established and novice. However, not all hui members live in Hawai'i.

Maya Satoi and Kyoko Kabasawa, known for their exquisite use of handspun fibers, natural plant dyes and shibori (a wrapping, folding, stitching and clamping technique for resist designs in the dyeing process) live in Japan.

The predominantly cream-colored "Moguls" by Liz Johnson of Maine is a wedge weave of 50 handspun fibers that have been labeled and mounted on a placard close by for all to fondle.

Elizabeth Leifer lives and weaves in Michigan, and former Islanders Robin Riccio Hackman and Judilee Fitzhugh live in Wisconsin and Wyoming, respectively. Robbie La Fleur from Minnesota submitted a beautiful transparently woven noren (door covering) with a white lotus design, titled "Five Decades and Still No Enlightenment."

San Francisco resident Sasha Duerr was awarded the Pacific Handcrafters' Guild Award for "Canned Pineapple," a lengthy, liquid and elegant cloth handwoven with pineapple fiber, silk and stainless steel.

The Temari Center for Asian & Pacific Arts Award went to Beth Abel Robinson for her dynamic "Upside Down Heliconia," a double-weave made with a rich palette of jeweled pearl cotton colors.

The Hawaii Craftsmen Award was given to Nancy Carol for her soft, pastel-colored, woven cotton "Monet's 50th Moment." The Hawaii Stitchery and Fibre Arts Guild Award went to Laurel Hayama for her "Handspun shawl," made of handspun tencel/wool in gradations of warm to cool colors with a painted warp.

Dee Van Dyke was given the Tusher Architectural Group Award for her tender, twin sculptures with and woven cloaks titled "Conversations with Olive." It was made of ceramic, wool and cotton crochet threads finger-woven with knotted fringe, 50 beads of clay, shell and coconut. The "Olive" in the piece, according to exhibition committee member Sidney Lynch, is in memory of Olive Williams, who was an active member of Foster Gardens and the Hawai'i Handweavers Hui. Williams influenced the weavers in the hui to use recycled materials in their work.

Joan Namkoong, writer and former editor of The Advertiser's Taste section, also is a gifted weaver. Her "Silk and Beads," a plainweave silk scarf, 50 ends per inch with No. 14 beads woven into the cloth, was given the Handweavers Guild of America Award. Four other works by Namkoong were also juried into the show. "50-1 Bags" consists of 51 woven bags of different sizes, colors, techniques and styles.

Advertiser staff writer Paula Rath's "Georgina Goes to Work" was juried into the exhibit as well. The work incorporates her connection to fashion, but unlike most of Rath's more refined textile work, this one has a twist. The mannequin is wearing 50 pieces of junk collected at construction sites.

Nail bracelets, a woven screen miniskirt and a choker made of scrap metals make a statement about women in a predominantly male labor force — a more creatively fashion-conscious co-worker of Rita the Riveter, no doubt.

Amusing and poignant, Sidney Lynch's "Breakfast in Baghdad 'Hawaii's Own' The 411th" consists of a tray made of bullet casings with assorted handwoven wool sushi.

Lori Ohtani's "War Torn: Pg. 50" takes the concept to the limit — 50 used library books, 50 cents each, with a strip of print from Page 50 of each book, all woven together in a flat book.

There are seven works in the first printed catalog that aren't in the exhibit.

If you pick up one of these catalogs, like this reviewer did, you aren't crazy. They are being reprinted.