Exhibition highlights Exactly 145 small sculptures from around the world show how artists have handled the challenges of space and scale dictated by the size of a shoebox. An invitation-only exhibition, this exhibit has attracted a large number of well-known artists from Hawai'i, the U.S. mainland, Argentina, Cuba, Australia, Korea, Japan, China, Thailand, France, Germany, Switzerland, Sweden, Canada, and Mexico.
Each sculpture speaks for itself. Some works are conceptual, some reflect the artist's cultural heritage, and others are universal in expression. Collectively, the sculptures are a powerful commentary on the state of humankind at the end of this industrially and technologically driven century. Artists have used almost every imaginable medium to create their sculptures including cast metal, carved wood, blown glass, woven fiber, handmade paper, molded clay, desiccated vegetables, found objects, shaped lead, and human hair. Visitors can easily find more than one favorite work, and some have been inspired to make their own sculptures.
After its initial showing at The University of Hawaii Art Gallery, 81 works from The 8th International Shoebox Sculpture Exhibition is scheduled to travel to 15 venues, nine in the U.S., five in Taiwan, and Guam. Its final showing will be at the Maui Arts & Culture Center, in October/November 2005. Previous Shoebox Sculpture exhibits organized by the University of Hawai'i Art Gallery were shown in Japan, Taiwan, Mexico, Canada, and Guam as well as the U.S. mainland.
The International Shoebox Sculpture Exhibitions have become a tradition of the University of Hawai‘i Department of Art. Although this is an invitational, artists around the world anticipate participation in the exhibitions. Museums are encouraged by the quality of the artists’ works and the opportunity the exhibition provides in bringing sculpture created by international artists to their communities. The small format of the works in the traveling exhibitions, with the subsequent ease and economy of handling, provides exposure to a broad spectrum of contemporary sculpture. The itinerary for The 8th International Shoebox Sculpture Exhibition brings the total presentations at museums and exhibition venues throughout the United States, Taiwan, Guam, Japan, Canada, and Mexico to 110.
As a cosmopolitan center, Hawai‘i embodies a cultural diversity. These triennial exhibitions were initiated as an attempt to incorporate a variety of multicultural traditions and a range of sculptural ideas, styles, and materials. The traveling exhibitions and catalogue were developed to foster communication among sculptors.While the curators have looked for artists whose works reflect national characteristics we have found that, most often, a common language exists—one that transcends national boundaries. As geographical borders are fractured and the global context dominates, the identity of the individual becomes hybrid. Whether defined by the artist’s ethnicity or the location of production, all art is increasingly integrated into the fabric of contemporary society. The act of affirming cultural identity becomes more complex.As we have searched for artists throughout the world who seem to have retained their individuality, we have questioned whether our selection only connects with our perception of another culture and thus, inclusion in the exhibition perpetuates the imposition of cultural provincialism. Likewise, we ponder whether the work produced simply reflects the clichés of a certain tradition and if those traits have been artificially produced to promote a sense of national identity.
The issues are intricate. Identity and the questions of difference are filled with ambiguity.This emphasizes the fact that multiple perspectives need to be accepted and recognized as the basis for dialogue. It is through the individual artist and his or her work that we will see and ultimately come to embrace the whole.
University of Hawai‘i professors of sculpture Mamoru Sato and Fred Roster are credited with the exhibition concept. They and Suzanne Wolfe, professor of ceramics, helped in thecuratorial selection of artists and the determination of works to be included in thetraveling exhibition. Professors Rick Mills, glass program, and Pat Hickman, fibers program, suggested and located many artists of international stature who were invited to participate.
One of the important educational advantages of an exhibition organized within a university context is the opportunity it provides for students to learn the processes of preparing and presenting an exhibition. Courtney Brebbia, as student coordinator, worked on many aspects of the exhibition that include serving as registrar, writing artists’ catalogue biographies, and assisting in the design of the installation at the University of Hawai‘i Art Gallery. Her concern and dedication is gratefully acknowledged.
Marween Yagin is to be praised for the sensitivity of design evident in this catalogue and the exhibition announcement. As a teacher it is rewarding to see the development of our students and witness the professionalism of their endeavors.
Brebbia and Yagin served internships as recipients of the Watumull Grant for Museum Studies in the Arts. Gulab and Indru Watumull are to be commended for establishing the internship program based on their concern for training students who aspire to museum-related professions.
Photographers Hal Lum and Paul Kodama are acknowledged for the quality photographs in this publication. I am grateful to my wife, Delmarie Motta Klobe, and to Sharon Tasaka, associate gallery director, for proofreading the catalogue. Tasaka and Wayne Kawamoto, exhibit designer, have been indispensable in helping to coordinate important details of this exhibition and in overseeing the development of the catalogue.
The continuing help of students makes the presentation of the University’s exhibition program possible. Thanks are extended to office management assistant Wanda Anae-Onishi; secretary Jennifer Agliam; gallery assistants and attendants Kevin Busk, Fletcher Howe, David Lee, James Massey, Glendalynn Ngirmeriil, Khari Nordmeier, Whisperlynn Rengiil, Darren Sanga, Jessica Schmidt, Mathias Wenty, Sarah May Woodruff, and Erin Yuasa; Art 360 Exhibition Design and Gallery Management students Jee Suk Chong, Wei-Ying Hsiao, Sungsun Jo, Christine Kerr, Chongmin Kim, Mei Matsunaga, Jodi Morioka, Maren Mosier, Patricia Redmann, Verena Snively, Taylor Wise-Harthorn, and to the many other students and volunteers, among them Denise Kosaka, Richard Loui, Betty Neogy, Marie-Gabrielle Selarque, and Cynthia Tesoro, who have worked on the preparation of this exhibition.
I am especially grateful for the support of the Hawai‘i State Foundation on Culture and the Arts, without which The 8th International Shoebox Sculpture Exhibition could not haveoccurred. The Foundation’s concerns that these international sculpture exhibitions continue in Hawai‘i, that quality publications document the exhibitions, and that the exhibitions have broad exposure beyond our island state is testimony to the commitment to the arts within the State of Hawai‘i. Likewise it is with deep appreciation that I acknowledge the Laila Art Fund for its support of the exhibition and catalogue. Laila Twigg-Smith is remembered for her enthusiasm for the arts in Hawai‘i and especially for her support of the Shoebox Sculpture concept.
In conclusion, I want to thank the sculptors who, through their work, make The International Shoebox Sculpture Exhibitions possible.
University of Hawai‘i Art Gallery