Ka wa ma mua, ka wa ma hope

Ching, Lena Lei
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University of Hawaii at Manoa
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Hawaiian navigators oriented themselves without instruments by using a system based upon knowing where they came from and by having faith in the words of their ancestors. As a Hawaiian artist, I am embarking on a journey in which I orient myself in much the same way. When translated from our language, "ka wa ma mua" literally means "the time in front." However, in Hawaiian thinking, it describes the time that came before this time in which we live. In the same vein, "ka wa ma hope" literally means "the time in back" or from a Hawaiian perspective, the time which follows this time in which we live. "It is as if the Hawaiian stands firmly in the present, with his back to the future, and his eyes fixed upon the past, seeking historical answers for present-day dilemmas." (Kameʻeleihiwa, 1992) We Hawaiians view the world looking to that time that came before us because it is rich in knowledge. Looking to my ancestors and knowing the history of our people strongly influences how I view the world and contributes greatly to the forming of my relationship with it. I look to the past also to learn more about my Hawaiian identity. As a Hawaiian in today's world, I realize that part of the process requires that I engage in the task of decolonizing my mind. My thesis exhibition is an attempt to express through imagery one aspect of this decolonization. It is only one part of the process and one avenue of many through which an artist can express resistance to further erosion of our life ways. Looking to the past, recognizing that I was raised as a colonized person is one step towards better understanding the importance of my Hawaiian identity. Awareness of this part of my past is another step in the process of decolonization.
iii, 35 leaves
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Theses for the degree of Master of Fine Arts (University of Hawaii at Manoa). Art; no. 438
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