Whose Faces Do We See?

  O Ka Mea Ho'ōkahi Iwi (Portrait of Kumu Hinaleimoana Wong-Kalu)  by Ian Kuali'i. Photo by Luna Park.

O Ka Mea Ho'ōkahi Iwi (Portrait of Kumu Hinaleimoana Wong-Kalu) by Ian Kuali'i. Photo by Luna Park.

Art in Ad Places is, at least in part, about the question of representation. Whose faces are we seeing in public space? Some of the same questions being asked across the country about monuments celebrating racism and racists, or just a single group of people (mostly, it seems, white dudes on horses), apply to the other ways in which we take in other kinds of information in public space. For example, through advertising. And also through street art.

This week, we have two posters by Ian Kuali'i. While Ian has made plenty of beautiful papercuts, these two seem particularly appropriate for public space, because they highlight amazing who haven't been celebrated in public monuments (yet). Kumu Hinaleimoana Wong-Kalu and Chief Vincent 'Eagle Spirit' Mann are the kinds of people whose faces should be gracing billboards. Instead, we get ads for butt lifts and beer. But, at least for a few days, we get them instead.

Here's what Ian has to say about Kumu Hinaleimoana Wong-Kalu:

"Kumu Hinaleimoana Wong-Kalu or simply Kumu Hina is a Mahu/Transgender Kanaka Maoli (Native Hawaiian/Chinese teacher, cultural practitioner and community leader whose boundless love and mana for her people has helped empower the Mauna A Wakea and the Hawaiian Sovereignty movements through dance, chant and the mele/song she composed 'Ku Ha'aheo E Ku'u Hawai'i' which serves as the rally song for the lahui. The struggle to project our sacred mountain and our identity as a sovereign illegally occupied island nation still carries on till this very day."

And Chief Vincent 'Eagle Spirit' Mann:

"Chief Vincent ‘Eagle Spirit’ Mann of the Ramapough Lenape Turtle Clan spearheaded efforts to force the Ford Motor Company to renew remediation at a 500-acre site it had contaminated in the 1960s to the early 1970s. Chief Mann continues to serve as a passionate advocate for his people and the environment. Chief Mann and the rest of the Ramapough Lenape Nation have erected the Split Rock Sweet Water Prayer Camp in Mahwah, New Jersey to protect their ancestral homelands and educate the public on the impending crisis of the AIM and Pilgrim Pipeline that threaten the water supply to millions of residents in the New York/New Jersey Area."

We're glad that Ian have given us the chance to celebrate them both.

  Portrait of Turtle Clan Chief Vincent 'Eagle Spirit' Mann of the Ramapough Lenape Nation  by Ian Kuali'i. Photo by Luna Park.

Portrait of Turtle Clan Chief Vincent 'Eagle Spirit' Mann of the Ramapough Lenape Nation by Ian Kuali'i. Photo by Luna Park.