The genealogy of the earliest creation is recorded through language. Kumulipo is philosophy from the perspective of Hawaiians; it is the coming together of earth’s life. When human cultures and even scientists describe the process of Kumulipo, the consistent human truth is that our bodies are bound by the biology of the earth’s atmosphere. 

Papahānaumoku  , 2017, 40"x 66", oil on canvas

Papahānaumoku, 2017, 40"x 66", oil on canvas

Papahānaumoku the earth goddess is the mother of our Hawaiian archipelago. This resource she gave is the biology by which we as people of Hawaii are bound. The mythology and philosophy that is behind this cultural belief teaches that; with no care for the health of the earth’s atmosphere, there is no care for the health of our bodies; no care for the health of children, or for the elderly who worked their whole lives for a better future. 

The government for their stake in modernization restricts people from their language that records their belief systems and cuts the people off from sustainable farming practices that would feed huge populations. The power of American capitalism is observed internally and externally over fair access -for all- to natural resources and communal, sustainable ways of living.

The future is now, and then. This perspective of time comes from the eternal system of belief in the genealogical connections the people of Hawaii have with their ‘aina. What is to be expected 1,000 years in the future comes from what is happening now, and what our ancestors did to survive in the past. The logic of this statement is pa’a as the concrete below my feet.


The annual Juried Exhibition at the Honolulu Academy of Arts School was curated by the artists collective: Paradise Cove. Paradise Cove asked artists to project their ideas and mediums one thousand years into the future of Hawaii's geography, history, culture. Picture, the globalized and exploited nature of today's Hawaiian history, and then macro enhanced by another thousand years of society's impact on the Hawaiian island chain; draining, demolishing, developing, reproducing, polluting. The ability for societies to plan for the future is a issue that many governments of the world are struggling with currently. Papahānaumoku is an important painting that expresses the relationships between biology, the earth's atmosphere, exhaustion of elemental resources, and human extinction. The Polynesians that first navigated the Pacific brought with them cultural influences, plants, animals, and a knowledge for the responsible usage of resources in special geological places. Knowledge of natural resource management, and a preparedness for future populations in the pacific relies on the people of this current generation taking responsibility for the environment now, or hand over the future to the unknown. 

Kumulipo, performance cartographies, and cultural basis of art

In process photograph, ' IMI,  2014, Nanea Lum   

In process photograph, 'IMI, 2014, Nanea Lum


Kumulipo, Mele ko'ihonua 

For those who are familiar with the Hawaiian chant, Kumulipo is the performance cartography that tells the genealogy of Hawaiian islands, gods, and indigenous plants, animals, and humans. Katrina-ann R. Kapa'anaokalaokeola Nakoa Olivera uses the term (performance cartography) in her book Ancestral Places, Understanding Kanaka Geographies, 2014, Corvallis, Oragon, pg 65, 1-5 to explain the concepts by which Hawaiian cultural world views are expressed relative to specifically the pae 'aina Hawaii (Hawaiian archipelago). Kanaka maoli (indigenous Hawaiians) oral traditions are the first example of a "performance cartography," a way that language and physical gesture makes real the conceptual boundaries between sky, earth, ocean, beach, mountains, fire, streams. Other philosophers have discussed how language is formed. The philosophy of language is debated as a function of logic, this context is not for understanding language however, it is for understanding the knowing of ones external and internal boundaries, it's  directionals and sensations. Experiential sensations, introspection and creative process combined, we are looking to understand the basis of art. 

Kumulipo is a mele ko'ihonua (cosmogonic genealogy) oral tradition which perpetuates the foundation for Hawaiian geography and ancestral culture. Mele ko'ihonua tell the genealogical connection that Kanaka have with the 'aina, the first living organisms, evolution, the birth of the gods, and people.

""Kumu" means "origin, source, foundation," and "lipo" means "dark, night, chaos." The union of these two words denotes the very beginning of time, when only darkness and chaos prevailed. The Kumulipo is a story both of origin and evolution, with all allusions to the natural growth of a baby within the womb. In the Kumulipo, the 'aina is not born in a natural birth process, nor is it created by the hands of the akua; rather, it grows from the depths of darkness and evolves into ka pae 'aina Hawaii (the hawaiian archipelago) Olivera, Ancestral Places, pg, 2/3

In process photograph,  LOA'A , 2014, Nanea Lum

In process photograph, LOA'A, 2014, Nanea Lum

Using the cultural foundation laid down by Kumulipo, other performance cartographies of Hawaiian culture are developed, hula (dance), mele (songs), hei (string figures). The pictorial medium is one that Hawaiians utilized in stone and wood carvings, petroglyphs, print making, string, and fiber figures. The expressions utilized in Hawaiian performance cartographies functioned like maps, referencing the specific 'aina of Hawaii and specific Hawaiian genealogies. My native visual expression of Hawaii began with understanding the foundation of  the Kumulipo and the implementation of indigenous world view into a pictorial medium. 

Through curiosity and compulsion, I developed a method to apply the Hawaiian concepts of creation to a artistic process. Beginning with chaos and nothingness, I laid down paint as a medium for change and evolution of form. The in process photos taken in my studio can act as moments of time or wā in which evolution of form took place. The natural order and balance of forms were articulated intuitively and in reference to a specific organism fleshy composition. 

Hahai (hunting), food production, fleshy compositions

photo:Nanea Lum, 2014, Goat Leg.

photo:Nanea Lum, 2014, Goat Leg.

These photo's are my resource photographs that document the harvesting of meat from free range goat thriving up mauka on the west of 'Oahu. The compositions captured of the particular animal are fresh context to examine a body and the food that its life produced. The hunt for this animal was done for subsistence food. Living off the land is not a hobby, but a lifestyle. The choice to collect ones own food through hard labor is an ethical choice and a human right that is a choice every person should consciously make.

A hunter in Hawaii needs to apply for a hunters license in order to harvest animals legally. The Hawaii state department of land and natural resources enforce rules on state land property as well as on public hunting grounds. The rules spell out what is acceptable hunting practice, and the places where one is permitted to hunt. The number of mammals a hunter is allowed to harvest is limited by the DLNR's regulation of bags, tags, stamps, and the amount of hours hunters are allowed in the field. Taking care of Hawaii's natural resources was a philosophy built into the Hawaiian culture through genealogy, and a self-awareness that conceives of the environment as interrelated biologically as well as spiritually.

Photo: Nanea Lum, 2014 Goat Meat

Photo: Nanea Lum, 2014 Goat Meat

There are many lenses by which to look at a these documentary photos. Anatomical drawings and figure paintings have strict compositional guidelines, while in these photos, the body is still the subject, but without the armature of its anatomical structure. I was moved and fascinated by the transformation of the body through death and consumption. What I perceived, is not something that I could dismiss, the transformation of a body into meat, is a human act which creates an object, from life itself. I drew on paper, the flesh's muscular anatomy, the proportional reproduction of muscle and tendons. I began to see the meat, not only as an object, but as a portal. Watching the flesh turn color as it oxidized and aged, began the idea; or the search to look deep into our food systems and gain a deeper knowledge about the proper or pono way gather and grow food in Hawaii. 

Mammals have a peaceful yet complex living system, they reproduce live young, and over time have been domesticated to require human interaction. The evolution of animal species tells us that form (genetic mutations) is compulsory of environmental conditions and time. The way that we look at domesticated mammals,as pets, as food, as pests, is not the only way that the animal exists.

Looking at the documentary photos and drawings of meat, a composition of flesh emerged. In Hawaiian idea, Puka is the word that describes the phenomena of emergence. Emergence is the term I use when a concept becomes relative to its independence from an artist or a collective of artists. 

Photo: Nanea Lum, 2014, In progress painting  Loa'a

Photo: Nanea Lum, 2014, In progress painting Loa'a

Pa'i'ai, Contact 2015, On being Hawaiian

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

Pa'i'ai, 2015, 60"x 60", oil and artists hair on wood panel. 

Pa'i'ai, 2015, 60"x 60", oil and artists hair on wood panel. 

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.


In progress photo: Nanea Lum. A rtists hair applied in axis grid formation on wet oil panel.

In progress photo: Nanea Lum. Artists hair applied in axis grid formation on wet oil panel.

Paiaiis 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. Paiai 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. 

'Imi a Loa'a

These paintings titles are a 'oleo no'eau (Hawaiian proverb) which translates to Search until you've found the answer. Produced for the graduation show at University of Hawaii, the paintings were investigative of personal biological and spiritual questions. The process of making these paintings reveals the human truths about art and culture. I, as a graduating bachelor in fine arts student had a lot of questions about where art comes from. I set fourth a painting project that would follow out some of my cultural teachings while also questioning new philosophical ideas of interconnectivity and biology. 

'IMI, 2014, oil on canvas, 90"x66" 

Aloha! E hele mai kaua!!

LOA'A, 2014, oil on canvas, 72"x72

Aloha nõ kakou  is a Online Gallery and Artists Blog. This website is the conduit of information that sources Nanea Lum's paintings, her Hawaiian cultural research, and studio practices.   Blog discussions on  shares research by Nanea Lum. Her studio practice is documented here along with citations of written sources, exhibits and contemporary discussions with artists, curators, and cultural specialists.     Loa'a  is a painting that was exhibited in 2014 at University of Hawaii at Mānoa for my Bachelors inFine Arts graduation exhibition titled  Pause...          

Aloha nõ kakou is a Online Gallery and Artists Blog. This website is the conduit of information that sources Nanea Lum's paintings, her Hawaiian cultural research, and studio practices. 

Blog discussions on shares research by Nanea Lum. Her studio practice is documented here along with citations of written sources, exhibits and contemporary discussions with artists, curators, and cultural specialists.  

Loa'a is a painting that was exhibited in 2014 at University of Hawaii at Mānoa for my Bachelors inFine Arts graduation exhibition titled Pause...