Grantee:  Maika’i Tubbs
Native Citizenship:  Native Hawaiian
Location: Brooklyn, N.Y.
Award:  2015 Native Hawaiian Artist Fellowship
Discipline:  Visual Arts
Web Site:

Maika’i Tubbs will collaborate with communities in Hawaii to clear the coastline of an estimated 2,000 pounds of waste and debris to create art that address the challenge of creating sustainable coastal environments.

Maika’i Tubbs is a visual artist who explores the beauty and possibilities at the intersection of things natural and man made, through art he creates from reclaimed, recycled and found materials. Foraging in the city of New York, he creates art supplies from what’s readily available, making ink from feeding discarded colored paper into a high-speed blender and creating sculpture molds from plastic jugs and his own recipe natural homemade glue.

“I am trying to make the discarded pieces of daily life that I collect seem valuable to those who only see them as disposable,” said Tubbs. “The need to collect things is an effect of the industrialized, globalized world we live in today. The things we do not collect wash up on our shores and appear in our landscapes, pleading for our attention. In pre-contact Hawaii, everyone had a relationship with everything and one took care of the land the way one takes care of their own family. Waste was not a known concept.”

His work has been exhibited around the world including a solo show at ii Gallery, Honolulu and in a group exhibition at the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of the American Indian, Washington, D.C. Institutions including the National Gallery of Canada, the Honolulu Museum of Art and the Lower Saxon State Museum in Germany, among others have collected his work. The Hawaii State Foundation on Culture and the Arts has recognized his work on three occasions and he was invited to complete a Trading Post Artist Residency by the Banff Center in Canada. Tubbs earned an M.F.A. in Design from Parsons School and a bachelor’s in fine art from the University of Hawaii.

Support from the Native Arts and Cultures Foundation will allow Tubbs to collaborate with communities in Hawaii to create works that address the challenge of creating sustainable coastal environments. He will invite volunteers to help him remove an estimated 2,000 pounds of waste and debris from the coastline. Found materials will be sorted and repurposed for art projects and remaining refuse will be recycled. The resulting art will be exhibited in 2016.

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