When you first enter the Honolulu Museum of Art, chances are that the face greeting you at the Visitor Information Center belongs to visitor services associate Caitlin Kohl. “My favorite parts about working here are getting to meet everybody who comes into the museum, getting to know the regulars and being around art all day because I’m an artist myself so I get constant inspiration,” she says.
The volunteer turned part-time employee turned full-time employee first started at the museum last summer after graduating from the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa for painting.
When asked what her favorite artwork is in the museum, Kohl heads straight towards the current contemporary exhibition Making Waves, which is on view until Feb. 3. The water-inspired exhibition features artworks of all media by women artists from the museum’s collection. “I love art that’s inspired by water because that’s what I get inspired by,” Kohl says on why she was excited for the exhibition.
Two of those artworks on display belong to California-based photographer and swimmer Suda House. Kohl’s favorite? Salome, named after the biblical character notorious for seducing and then beheading John the Baptist.
“There’s been plays and paintings of her where she’s like depicted as a super temptress kind of lady and you never meet her as an actual person, you only meet her through the context of culture’s representation of women who act out,” Kohl, who wrote a paper about Salome while in school out of her fascination with biblical characters, explains.
“[In House’s artwork] she’s represented as her own individual,” she says. “It’s a very intimate portrait. She’s super fearless and relaxed and you don’t really see her through a bundle of stories that men write—it’s her own portrait.”
“Suda House super encapsulates the essence of being a female and being powerful,” Kohl adds.
Suda House (American, born 1951)
Gifts of Suda House, 2014 (2014-53-04)