On view from September 15 to January 27, the exhibition Ho'oulu Hawai'i: The King Kalakaua Era is an exploration of how a forward-looking nation created a cosmopolitan identity that took its place on the world stage.
Ho'oulu Hawai'i: The King Kalakaua Era considers art and experimentation in the Hawaiian Kingdom during the reign of King David Kalakaua (1874-1891). Cosmopolitanism–the idea that local politics share systemic parallels internationally as part of a world citizenry–was a thriving philosophy in the Hawaiian Kingdom, and it was expressed through art.
People in Hawai'i developed a visual language that merged art and politics, and that presented local iterations of global art styles. They expanded an existing visual culture using a combination of indigenous and introduced materials, concepts, and techniques. The show features experimental art works alongside academic art works to explore how both the avant-garde and the academic were deployed in the shaping of a national identity.
The exhibition prompts conversations about issues of adaptability, economy, ceremony, and more important, gets at underlying perceptions about the Hawaiian place in the world at the turn of the century. It also challenges ideas about tradition, modernity, and culture in Hawai'i through the collection and loaned works.
Softcover; ISBN 9780937426944; 210 pp; 2018