Pearlyn Salvador next to her installation, "Daydreaming" in the art school's Nanogallery

Pearlyn Salvador next to her installation, “Daydreaming” in the art school’s Nanogallery

Last November, Honolulu Museum of Art School director Vince Hazen converted a former phone booth into the Nanogallery—a mini art space. Though it’s in the school’s lobby, it can be easy for visitors and students to stride by without noticing the Lilliputian art worlds within—but it’s definitely worth a prolonged peek.

Since it opened, the Nanogallery has hosted 14 installations by more than 25 artists (there were two group shows). This month, artist Pearlyn Salvador (who’s also the art school’s assistant director) has taken up residence in the microspot with her ethereal installation, Daydreaming. We sat down with her to learn more about her work.

As the assistant director for the art school you’ve got a pretty busy schedule, how do you find time for your art?
Well, I don’t have kids, I have only a few hobbies, and I go to sleep very late, so I find that there’s always a bit of time during the week to make art. My biggest problem is just getting started on a project. I have a little black sketchbook and scraps of notepaper with ideas. I like to have those ideas stew in my mind for a long while, but once I get started, I’m committed and enjoy the process and am anxious to see the product.

What is your medium?
I like drawing, but enjoy working in 3-D. My focus in college was sculpture. I live in an apartment with thin walls, so I work with materials that don’t require using electric power tools. Currently, I like working with clay, wood and paper—they’re easy to manipulate with simple handheld tools.

Pearlyn Salvador peers into one of the houses in her installation, "Daydreaming."

Pearlyn Salvador peers into one of the houses in her installation, “Daydreaming.”

What was your inspiration for Daydreaming?
My inspiration originated from a book called Einstein’s Dreams by Alan Lightman. I made sketches years ago, continually revised it, and considered making it from other materials. It just recently evolved to what I have now.

Is there personal meaning to it?
I invite people to enter the space and examine each house. There’s a gold object attached to each house. Each object—the ladder to nowhere (or somewhere), the empty bird’s nest, the single chair, and the floating umbrella—all symbolize something for me. I’m hesitant to explain what each object represents. It’s nice when the viewer interprets the work themselves. I enjoying listening to their take on what the work is about. Although, if the viewer wants me to explain, I’ll be more than happy to.

What materials did you use?
I used thin boards of birch and balsa wood for the little houses, batting for the clouds, and gold spray paint.

A detail of "Daydreaming"

A detail of “Daydreaming”

Since the Nanogallery is so small, were there certain restrictions you had to take into account for when creating this piece?
I normally work in small scale, so there weren’t many restrictions. It was more about how can I utilize the space effectively.

What do you want people to take away with them after seeing Daydreaming?
I’m not sure. When I enter a gallery and see an artwork I really like, maybe because of its content or technique used, I get excited and inspired to make art. So I hope my piece has an effect on people somehow. If not to make art, then for it to have some meaning that it will always be a memorable piece.

What do you think makes the Nanogallery special?
The Nanogallery first opened a little more than a year ago, yet not everyone knows it exists. So when people come to visit the art school, it’s like a little treasure they’ve found. The Nanogallery allows artists the freedom to experiment with the space and produce work that may not be best suited in a typical gallery setting. We’ve had quite a few interesting installations by talented artists, and it’s always been exciting to see what the artists create and entertaining to watch visitors look at or interact with the work on display.

We’ve gotta ask, what do you daydream about?
I’d like to share with you, but I’d be telling you my secrets. I can’t say.


Coming up next in the Nanogallery:January: Gail Toma and Students: Rainsticks, Rattles and Caixixi
February: Noah Matteucci