Courtesy: SFCA

Kapa Lele o Hawaii

Honolulu, Hawaii

Erica Karawina

Ka'ahumanu Hale Ceiling, 777 Punchbowl Street, Honolulu, Hawaii, 96813-5093
Date:  1982
Placement:  courthouses
Artwork Type:  stained glass (visual works)
Material:  stained glass (material)
Description:  Artist Erika Karawina faced imposing limitations in designing a mural for the Kaahumanu Hale courthouse ceiling. The building's great height and massive coffers precluded a small-scale or continuous design. Moreover, because viewers would have to strain to see details from so far away, they would not be able to easily decipher meaning. Thus, Karawina ruled out any story telling. Ultimately, she came to the "happy solution" of a huge Hawaiian tapa cloth. She was delighted to find, because the Polynesians obtained their pigments from a great variety of tropical plants, they produced an astonishing array of colors, in all hues of the rainbow as well as earthly tones. Karawina elaborates, "In designing tapa, the unit from which a design is constructed -- the small bamboo stand -- is applied so its true shape almost disappears, often creating unexpected patterns. Negative spaces become positive, and totally new designs emerge... I wanted variety with harmony, and richness in color especially in the faceting." Karawina quotes Henri Matisse: "Stained glass is colored light. It is a luminous orchestra. There is no need for stories. If stained glass becomes again a symphony of colors, it can find a place in any architecture."

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