Blue Hawai'i

by - February 18, 2014

February 21 - March 27, 2014
Opening Reception: Friday, February 21, 2014 5:30-8:00PM
Artist Talk: Thursday, February 20, 2014 7PM (location on campus ACB 310)
All events are free and open to the public 
The Martha and Robert Fogelman Galleries of Contemporary Art
University of Memphis
Department of Art
Art and Communication Building
3715 Central Ave.
Memphis, TN 38152

You won’t find Elvis or surfboards or funny umbrella-topped cocktails in Kina's dystopic Blue Hawaiʻi. Drawn from family albums, oral history and community archives from Hawai'i and Okinawa, these ghostly oil paintings employ distilled memories to investigate themes of distance, longing, and belonging.

Featuring new works and a selection from her ongoing Sugar series (2009-present), the setting is Kina’s father’s Okinawan sugarcane field plantation community, Piʻihonua, on the Big Island of Hawaiʻi near Hilo. Her obsession with blue was inspired by the indigo-dyed kasuri kimonos repurposed by the Issei (first generation) “picture bride” immigrants for canefield work clothes, and colored by stories of hinotama (fireballs) shooting from the canefield cemetery into the night sky. Blue Hawaiʻi echoes the spirits of Kina’s ancestors and shared histories of labor migration.

Laura Kina is Vincent de Paul associate professor of Art, Media, & Design at DePaul University. She is the coeditor, along with Wei Ming Dariotis, of War Baby/Love Child: Mixed Race Asian American Art (University of Washington Press, 2013); cofounder of the DePaul biennial Critical Mixed Race Studies conference; and cofounder and co-managing editor of the Journal of Critical Mixed Race Studies. Her solo exhibitions include Sugar (2010), A Many-Splendored Thing(2010) , Aloha Dreams (2007), Loving (2006), and Hapa Soap Operas (2003). She has exhibited at the Chicago Cultural Center, India Habitat Centre, Nehuru Art Centre, Okinawa Prefectural Art Museum, the Rose Art Museum, the Spertus Museum, and the Wing Luke Museum of the Asian Pacific American Experience. (via

View the digital exhibition catalog featuring an essay "Okinawan Diaspora Blues" by Wesley Uenten, Associate Professor of Asian American Studies San Francisco State University

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