If you’ve stopped by the Art School building since last Saturday, July 14, then you hopefully also paid a visit to the Summer 2018 Young Artist Exhibition, which, as the name implies, features artwork completed in the Summer 2018 classes. While checking out the next generation’s artwork, your eyes might have caught on a glimmer of something that resembles a sparkling chandelier.

Some of the Art Campers' sharks

Some of the Art Campers’ sharks.

Upon closer inspection, you’ll realize that it’s not technically a chandelier, but instead a collection of dangling crystal-adorned sea creatures made by the six-year-old to nine-year-old Art Campers. The month-long class was taught by teaching artist Rachel Huntley and her assistants Sharon Whatmore and Verlyn Cabanting.

These floating sea creatures sparkle just like Erick Swenson's manō.

These floating sea creatures sparkle just like Erick Swenson’s manō.

Do the sparkling floating fish remind you of something else currently on view in our museum?

They should. They’re inspired by Dallas-based artist Erick Swenson’s Present in the Past, which is on view in our current contemporary exhibition Abstruction: The Sculpture of Erick SwensonPresent in the Past is an eye-catching, labor-intensive hammerhead shark encrusted with geode-inspired formations meant to represent humans’ relationship with time and the galaxy.

"Present in the Past," 2018 Urethane resin, acrylic paint, 
26 x 74 x 17 inches, 
Collection of Honolulu Museum of Art; Purchased with funds from deaccessions in memory of James (Jay) Jensen, 2018 (2015-21-01)

“Present in the Past,” 2018
Urethane resin, acrylic paint, 
26 x 74 x 17 inches, 
Collection of Honolulu Museum of Art; Purchased with funds from deaccessions in memory of James (Jay) Jensen, 2018 (2015-21-01)

“The modern shark as we see and know it today has existed for more than 100 million years,” Swenson told us earlier this year. “By comparison, modern man has only existed for a mere 200,000 years. In fact, the shark as a species is actually older than trees. The shark and rock formation are alternative metrics in which to measure the immense age of our world and emphasize the relatively brief role that modern humans have played thus far.”

“One of my goals for students was to expose them to interdisciplinary art practices and contemporary artists as a way to get students to reach beyond art practices they already are familiar with, and use these contemporary artists like Erick Swenson to expand their understanding of what art is and what art can be,” Huntley says. 

“Focusing specifically on Swenson’s Present in the Past, this work was a great example for students to think about the different steps in planning and preparation that artists go through to make their work and how color can be used to create a narration.”

Each keiki designed and sculpted their own Swenson-like manō (shark) out of clay, and then in a 24-hour time period, grew crystals on their fish. “Once the work was fired and painted, students were beyond excited to grow and be surprised by the crystals that formed on their sculptures and learn how we as artists can use science in our artwork,” Huntley adds.

View the sparkling results at the Summer 2018 Young Artist Exhibition, on view until July 25. While you’re at it, check out the inspiration for the project: Abstruction: The Sculpture of Erick Swenson is on view until July 29.