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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Negotiating the Ecology of Place


I find several compelling parallels between the human and plant realms, particularly in relation to place and identity. Refreshing insights, questions, and perspectives have arisen for me in my reflections on the history and ecosystems of Hawaiʻi, my own identity, and my work. I am interested in how we construct and deconstruct individual identities within the context of a larger society. As human beings, we shift, adapt, resist, or embrace the various influences within the social, cultural and natural ecosystems in which we live. We invent and reorganize ourselves continuously as we move through time and space. I associate this journey of finding and fitting the pieces of ourselves together with patchwork — articulating and finding meaning in the patterns, textures, and salvageable pieces of our identities. Like plants, we live in transformation.

I use a variety of natural fibers in my work, including wool, silk, and wauke (Broussonetia papyrifera). While I honor traditions from the past (harvesting and beating bark and hand-felting wool are among the oldest of fiber craft forms), I also experiment with new methods as a way of expressing my own, authentic voice. My current work straddles the lines between craft and fine art, representation and abstraction, and conceptual vocabularies that merge artistic traditions related to my biological origins: African American patchwork quilting and Finnish felting with tapa (bark cloth) and artistic traditions from Hawaiʻi.

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