In Gallery 30, red dirt is rapidly transforming into a miniature landscape, one cone and one mountain at a time. I have set up a soil mixing area, a cone sculpting area and an area where I am creating works on paper. It has been meaningful to consolidate all of these creative practices in the same studio at the Academy.
During my first two weekends here, visitors were enthusiastic about making their own mountain to be a part of the installation. I am amazed that no two cones turn out alike—each cone expressing the personality of the maker. For each open studio, I am preparing a soil sample from a different location on O‘ahu, starting with Wilhelmina Rise on the first weekend (May 14-15) and Kahuku on the second (June 21-22).
I began installing cones in the Banyan courtyard on May 14th, enlivening the central space where the miniature banyan tree used to be. The cones are gradually sprinkling the area to make a site-specific miniature landscape for the courtyard.
A young girl from Kaua‘i came in to sculpt one of the smallest mountains in the studio yet. Her whole-hearted concentration on the creative act was inspiring for other artists of any age to witness. Her mountain looks just like a mountain I have seen in the islands before, could it be Wai‘ale‘ale or Sleeping Giant?
Another visitor to the museum asked if my installation was intended to match the island of O‘ahu, wondering if the cones represent specific mountains. This led me to think a bit more about the shape of the cones and the relationship to our “landscape” here on this island. Is landscape something that can be miniaturized and then recreated in an art museum?
I am beginning to think of landscape as not just what we see in the outer world, as a geographic reality, but as a socially created viewpoint on a place. In other words landscape could be what we talk about, something that exists in our social relationship to place. That is why this miniature landscape is composed not only of materials from nature, but also of stories people tell.