From September 15 to October 10 on our Facebook page we invited people to submit their interpretations of works within the museum as part of an open contest. The prize? A chance to be displayed next to their source of inspiration for one week.

After careful reviewing our submissions, our curators selected Roy Chang’s ‘The Discovery and the Development.’ Last Wednesday Roy visited the museum, and told us about how Arman Manookian’s ‘The Discovery’ spoke to him.

“I actually took a whole walkabout tour through all the museum exhibits taking pictures and getting inspired to choose something to do for the contest.” Explained Chang. “I saw a lot of art work I wanted to recreate and was a little tired by the time I got to Art Deco Hawai‘i.  When I saw The Discovery, I liked the stark color contrasts and graphic shapes, especially the use of blue and orange as complimentary colors. I read the label, but I also picked up on subtle political and social meanings as well.  You have the native royalty standing proud on the left, and off in the distance one wonders what the ‘discoverers’ are plotting or planning.  In hindsight we know the culture and land would be forever changed. I suppose as an editorial cartoonist, I see metaphor and symbolism in visual images.”

The painting’s tall white ship sails reminded Chang of Kaka‘ako’s high-end gentrification. Pointing out the symbolism in his version, Chang said “The rail system represents the new order of life and development and promises much for the future, but at what cost to long time businesses, families and ‘local culture?’ The ali`i is now reduced to a local with just a ‘buck’ and can’t afford to enjoy the changes as some families are packed up and forced to leave.”

Even though he’s a working artist, Chang was still excited about this opportunity the contest offered. “I am so honored by all of this,” said Chang “especially the great job they did framing and making the presentation for the art. The entire museum and staff are wonderful, and I’m glad they did this contest to reach into the artistic community. I’ve seen the other Art Deco displays on cards, posters and other products, but this was my first time seeing Manookian’s work. He lived a short life, and I hope he would have been pleased with my drawing and that it was inspired by his painting.”