Her experiences on Polynesian voyaging canoes are essential to the making of her abstract works on paper. Living without modern luxuries while surrounded by ocean and sky, Hana has developed a deep awareness of nature’s patterns and natural phenomena. While on board, she keeps a journal of descriptions and impressions that occur to her. Back in her studio, she reads over her notes, which spark visual memories that she uses to create her pieces.

Working on sheets of paper placed flat on a floor or table, she applies seawater, fresh water, ink and paint, and allows them to flow, mix, and dry freely. Afterwards she may go back to the work with a small brush, to create linear patterns and forms. The result is a sensual, layered surface, sometimes with salt-crystal formations, evoking coastal and submerged topography, or the vastness of the night sky.

Seeing her exhibition Between Ocean and Sky: Hana Yoshihata this winter will bring back thoughts of Hōkūle‘a and the Polynesian Voyaging Society’s epic accomplishment all over again.