Kapulani Landgraf is an exhibiting artist whose work is grounded in black and white photography and spans a variety of mediums, from 2-dimensional representations to sculpture and installation.
“As an artist, my work is guided by my Native Hawaiian values, language and culture. I feel compelled to celebrate my Hawaiian culture, but also to express my feelings on the profound changes that have happened and continue to occur in Hawaii by ongoing Western intrusion and its impact on Hawaiian rights, values and history,” said Landgraf. “Although much of my work laments the violations on the Hawaiian people, land and natural resources, they also offer hope with allusions to the strength and resilience of Hawaiian land and its people.”
Venues across Hawaii and the continent have exhibited her work, including the Bishop Museum, the Museum of Contemporary Native Art in Santa Fe, N.M., in NYC and in Seattle. Her work is part of the renowned Changing Hands: Art Without Reservation exhibit that has toured nationally.
During her fellowship year, the Honolulu Museum of Art exhibited Ponoiwi, a solo exhibition of her work addressing the reshaping of beaches and natural features due to sand mining and construction on Hawai’i. She continued work on her sixth book, Ē Luke Wale Ē (Devastation Upon Devastation), a collection of photographs and Hawaiian verse chronicling treasured wahi pana, sacred lands, and ancient Hawaiian cultural features destroyed by the construction of the O’ahu H-3 freeway, the only U.S. freeway deemed exempt from protection of environmental law.
With the support of a 2013 NACF Artist Fellowship in Visual Art, Landgraf was able to build a darkroom and studio, and create two new installations. In Ka Maunu Pololoi?, Landgraf presented 81 blackened rat traps gripping dollars, symbols and works of art, embellished with white chalk letters that spelled out the word LANI (sky). The installation addressed the critical need for Indigenous artists to discuss and analyze the “trappings” of commodification, appropriation and branding of Native Hawaiian culture, intellectual property and the politics of identity. For the Salt Wada group exhibition displayed during the 2014 World Indigenous Peoples Conference on Education (WiPCE). Landgraf created test tubes filled with salt water and images of invasive species from historical as well as contemporary times.
“The NACF Artist Fellowship validated artwork created by a Native Hawaiian artist working in Hawai’i on a national scale,” said Landgraf. “I hope the national award brings a greater awareness and interest to the realities and injusticies, which continue to occur in Hawai’i and within the Native Hawaiian community. I also hope it inspires and instigates younger Native Hawaiian artists to go beyond the decorative – to give voice and challenge – to push the boundaries – to make people think.”