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Kanu Hawaii began when a small group of people asked themselves what kind of future they wanted for Hawaii. Among the early activities of the group was a series of meetings where founding members began envisioning that future. Carl Pao, an artist and teacher, was at those sessions and created this work of art that was the inspiration for our logo. His statement follows.
When first asked to create a work of art to reflect the experience of the three working sessions, I immediately thought of the "passing on of a seed to future generations." That the labor we were about to commence with was not for us, but for the next seven generations!
An Olelo Noeau was shared with the group that reaffirmed my vision for the work:
Aia no ka pono — o ka hoohuli i ka lima i lalo, aole o ka hoohuli i luna.
That is what it should be — to turn the hands palms down, not palms up.
No one can work with the palms of his hands turned up. When a person is always busy, he is said to keep his palms down.
The crescent shapes of the painting are to represent the "hands", a bowl, the giving and receiving, and the hoaka, a spiritual form and one of the lunar nights ideal for the beginning of an endeavor.
The three central "spheres" represent the "seeds" that have been planted, harvested and dispersed. The "spheres" also are interpreted as the three piko or navels in our Kanaka Maoli belief of the body, mind and spirit.
The combination of the two larger crescents back-to-back form a kii or human form. No reproductive organs are depicted to demonstrate a "universal" or non-discriminatory perspective. We are all responsible.
The "top" crescent with sphere is the future. The seed that has been and will be dispersed. The hope of a fruitful future.
The "motif" that lies behind the central image is a font I developed to promote the constant dynamic evolution of the host nation, Kanaka Maoli. The "motif" is actually the text "kanu" repeated both from left to right and from bottom to top.
The most distant of images in the work are my personal "watermark." These symbols are an evolution of my personal journey as an artist who is trying to connect with my ancestor's view of the world. It is in a way my "signature."
The green arrows are only serving the purpose of the overall design of the work. Basically, a solution to a visual dilemma.
The color scheme symbolizes the struggle for balance in life; black and white, complements (brown-orange and blue).
The painting consists of 8 different meaningful layers of various colors of paint and thicknesses of paper. I work with an ancestral counting system of 4 and start by painting the entire image in black to represent po or the primordial void or darkness at the beginning of consciousness and life.
— Carl Pao