Pa’i’ai is a painting that was exhibited in the annual juried group exhibition CONTACT 15 at the Honolulu Academy of Art School gallery. The process of building this painting came from inspiration of the theme “contact” and the essay by John Dominis Holt: On being Hawaiian.
"It is the spirit, the collective ethos of centuries of culture and the shape it has taken under subtle influences of environment… all the good… all the bad… Heritage" John Dominis Holt
In On Being Hawaiian, John Dominis Holt wrote his response to emotional pain, and frustration caused by the burden of Hawaii's history. His words produce a sensation of power, endurance, and direction for those of Hawaiian inheritance and genealogy. John Dominis Holt urges other part- Hawaiians not to be bound by the fragment of the past culture, or the trauma of injustice; but to instead carry over into modernity, the Hawaiian identity as it applies to ones self.
Pa’i’aiis a painting that validates the endurance and power of ancient culture through the corporeal material of the artist, the part-Hawaiian. The exhibition of biological material in traditional Hawaiian thought is dangerous, or taboo. The utilization of the artist’s own hair makes vulnerable the artist’s personal body, the raw biological material that is being transformed into a larger conceptual entity. Pa’i’ai is the product of pounding the cooked taro root into a gummy mass of super nutrient rich food. The transformation of the taro, like the transformation of ones self, is a process that directly involves the environment, and cultural communities. The life food of the Hawaiian people stands in symbol of the "collective spirit” and the referential material of the Hawaiian self. Pa’i’ai extends itself in simultaneous time between the first and the last of Hawaiians, and exhibits a process that all people go through in accepting their past as the material that has made them who they are presently.