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Leland Miyano. Photo: the Honolulu Biennial Foundation.

Leland Miyano Receives Honolulu Biennial’s Inaugural Golden Hibiscus Award

The Honolulu Biennial Foundation announced that the Hawaii-based artist and naturalist Leland Miyano has won the first Golden Hibiscus Award, a new $10,000 unrestricted cash prize given to a participating artist or artist collective whose artwork merits special recognition. The artist was chosen for his work Huaka’i / A Wake, 2019, which explores themes of sustainability, voyaging, and the community’s reciprocal relationship with the ecosystem of the island.

The piece takes the form of a double-hull canoe that is approximately fifty feet long and houses a garden. Miyano constructed the piece using invasive plants, such as the wood from strawberry guava trees, and other found materials primarily from the Hoʻomaluhia Botanical Garden in Kāneʻohe on the windward side of Oʻahu. He enlisted more than twenty volunteers to help with the project, which was a special commission for the exhibition.

“The inspiration for the piece comes from questions about climate change and what happens if we have to get off this island,” the biennial’s executive director and cofounder, Katherine Ann Leilani Tuider, said. “Can we get off using invasive wood? Have we lost traditional methods of weaving, navigation, and canoe building?”

An honorable mention and a cash award of $1,000 was awarded to the Hawaii-based artist Bernice Akamine for her work Kalo, 2016–, which features eighty-seven kalo sculptures bearing the signature pages of the 1897 Hui Aloha ‘Āina Anti-Annexation Petitions and hand-drawn maps of traditional land divisions from the five islands.

The award’s jury comprised Fumio Nanjo, director of the Mori Art Museum and curatorial director of the first Honolulu Biennial (2017); Christine Y. Kim, associate curator of contemporary art at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art; Konrad Ng, executive director of Shangri La Museum of Islamic Art, Culture, & Design; and Isabella Ellaheh Hughes, cofounder, former director, and director emeritus of the Honolulu Biennial Foundation.

The second edition of the Honolulu Biennial, “To Make Wrong / Right / Now,” which is taking place at twelve locations on Oʻahu, runs from March 8 to May 5, 2019.

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