"Bruises in the Garden,” my latest wet plate photographic series, deals with past and present transgressions against the Hawaiian people and the aina (land). The offenses have impacted the psyche of the Kanaka Ma'oli (indigenous Hawaiians). Some Kanaka are aggressively vocal about the issues and others are more subdued. Yet all Hawaiians deeply connected to their history and land support to varying degrees the Kanaka's expression of certain claims. The irony is not lost on me as I realize I am representative of the problem. I claim no expertise in Hawaiian history and affairs, nor explicit empathy with the people of this land. Yet having some native-American ancestry and the fact that Hawaii has been my home for most of my life… like an EMT, I do feel it’s pulse. My artistic concern is to show their heartbeat implicitly expressed through my camera. What hides behind the façade of a smile, the offering of a lei, the performance of a dance, a greeting, a luau, a kiss for which Hawaii is so graciously known? Is "Aloha" sacrificed on the altar of conciliation?
Inspired by the work of British street artist, Banksy, I approach these issues satirically in an attempt to reach the recesses of the Hawaiian consciousness. Through provocative imagery, some deeply personal, I wish to evoke a pause, serious consideration, and respectful discourse between residents and visitors. Some images are open to interpretation and some speak clearly - all should lead to greater understanding about the Hawaiian past and current grievances that are implicit in its voice today. While understanding the risk my intention as an artist is to entertain and throw a sucker punch simultaneously.
I am conflicted in the great pleasure I derived from my work in this series and the desire to reach resolution and restitution for the people of Hawaii. In a perfect world, taking pictures of rainbows and sunsets might be my only options. With the understanding that I have art followers both here and abroad and out of respect for the Kanaka, I welcome feedback but will limit my responses. The work is what it is… artistic satire full of symbolism and double meanings; therefore, not to be taken personally or as authoritative. It is a gallery where the work simply hangs on the wall and you will either be stirred to contemplation or pass into the next room. This work is an unconditional expression of my concerned heart and I share it with Aloha… feel free to share as well.
To all the volunteers, participants, models, and others so vital in this culminating work, I extend a big MAHALO and aloha. With the blessings and endorsements of several Hawaiians I have consulted, including a Hawaiian practitioner and a Kumu Hula, I now humbly and respectfully present to you, “Bruises in the Garden”.
Bruises in the Garden Gallery: http://daniel-finchum.squarespace.com/bruises-in-the-garden/