Mo‘olelo of the Ahupuaʻa tells the various stories of living, working, playing and learning within a sustainable landscape.
These are themes within the epic Hawaiian myth Hiʻiakaikapoliopele, which Hawaiian artist Solomon Enos depicts in this series of paintings. The heroine Hiʻiaka is on a quest that takes her throughout the various landscapes and worlds of the islands. On the way she encounters an underground hidden world of shape-shifting insect/arachnid-people, who invite her to share their plentiful resources.
The seven paintings that feature in this new display are from a wider series, following from a previous display which highlighted the Hawaiian tradition of mo‘olelo, a way of storing and sharing Hawaiian cultural memory that guides future generations in understanding the world. In each painting the artist re-imagines this hidden world, creating an entomological character based on a Hawaiian species. Like these species, each has an important role to play in this eco-system and has the relevant clothing and implements. This display draws on the theme the Ahupuaʻa - a traditional Hawaiian land division that runs from the mountain tops to the sea embracing the ecosystems within, and introduces further characters from Solomon Enos' imagining of the Hiʻiakaikapoliopele. Inspired by collections stewarded by the Museum, Enos re-energises the artefacts to:
begin an exploration into Hawaiian culture through a fanciful voyage into my ancestors’ imaginations.
Objects are displayed in conversation with the paintings reflecting their relationship with the wider material culture of Hawaii.
The Hawaiian tradition of mo’olelo is constituted of different types of recounted knowledge including history, myth and legend. The paintings, alongside Enos' accompanying narrative, simultaneously blend history, culture, and ecology with the fanciful, highlighting the intertwinement of cultural and biological eco-systems. The display also reflects Enos' use of Instagram posts to share his work whilst creating these paintings, evolving mo‘olelo, as he says, ‘continuing the work of his ancestors in a different medium.’
Encounter characters of the Hiʻiakaikapoliopele on a journey from the mountain tops to the ocean...
Traverse the mauka (uplands) with The Teacher, farm the kula (plains) with The Transporter,
until you meet The Paddler in the makai (sea).