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MAMo – A Celebration of Native Hawaiian Art

May 25, 2011

Maoli Arts Month is an annual celebration of Native Hawaiian art in its many forms. This year’s theme is “Kuakino: The Chanter & the Change.” Events run from April 8 through May 28th on Oahu and Hawaii’s Big Island. 

One of the highlights of the celebration is the MAMo Wearable Art Show, which was held last week at the historic Hawaii Theatre in downtown Honolulu. Modern Hawaiian culture, music, art and dance draw from ancient influences, and it’s this juxtaposition between old and new that made the show so dynamic. 

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Designs ranged from Kākau (traditional tattoos) by legendary tattoo artist Keone Nunes to contemporary clothing lines from Manuheali’i and Wahine Toa designs by Nita Pilago to  the Sonny Ching jewelry collection by Paradisus. In this show, models, dancers and entertainers were all one. Girls from the Hawaii Youth Opera wore classic Bete Mu’u while they sang and danced. Leading entertainers, hula kumu (teachers) and their hula halau (hula schools) walked the runway or provided the musical accompaniment. Among the stars were Robert Cazimero, Mapuana de Silva, Manu Boyd, Christina Souza, Starr Kalahiki and Lopaka Colon.

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This writer’s favorites were the explosive Ku Kanaka chant from Kumu Hula (hula teacher) Sonny Ching and his hula halau ,which then morphed into a “Project Runway” fashion show of Sonny’s jewelry as the chant transformed into an opera sung by Christina Souza to the tune of “Carmen.” (You had to be there.)

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Another favorite was the over-the-top/couture fashions by Carrington “Baba” Yap with his flowing gowns and high fashion hats/make-up and hair. It was a feast for the eyes and ears.

MAMo's silent auction featured Hawaiian art, pareo (wrap around dresses), jewelry and more.

Lei po'o, handmade Hawaiian feather lei

One of the benefits of attending MAMo’s Wearable Art Show is the ability to purchase Hawaiian handcrafts that are difficult to find elsewhere. Many of the traditional arts, such as feather lei making, were almost lost, but were revived during the Hawaiian renaissance starting in the 1970s. Hawaiian-style jewelry, art and crafts are also available for sale, with proceeds benefiting the show.

If you’re a fan of all things Hawaiian, mark your calendar next May for the 6th annual Maoli Arts Month Wearable Art Show. :: Maoli Arts Month

***Special mahalo to contributing writer and Creative Department Manager, Janice Kekoa, for this article.***

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