Art, law meet on common ground of social justice at library exhibit

University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa
Beverly Creamer, (808) 389-5736
Media Consultant, William S. Richardson School of Law
Posted: Oct 1, 2015

Students, faculty and guests enjoy the 'Social Justice' art exhibit.
Students, faculty and guests enjoy the 'Social Justice' art exhibit.

More than 80 people joined in the opening evening celebration last Friday, as the UH Law Library unveiled its first-ever art exhibition, presented around the theme of social justice. The display will continue for a month through Friday, October 23.

The exhibit brought together a broad collection of works by members of the William S. Richardson Law School community, who produced photos, paintings, wall hangings, and a unique, wall-sized art projection by lawyer/artist/writer Sonny Ganaden ‘06. All of the pieces touched on controversial issues such as human trafficking, development on Mauna Kea, immigration, World War II internment of people of Japanese ancestry, and social and economic equality.

A stunning "bomber" jacket, assembled from dyed female undergarments and created by mediator, artist and clothing designer Elizabeth Kent ’85 alluded to sex trafficking with its title, “Meet Me at the Meat Market, But Be Careful." A stark portrait in black on yellow by attorney Randy Compton ’12 portrayed Jojo Peter, a wheelchair-bound scholar and outspoken advocate for his fellow Micronesians.

“He’s the embodiment of social justice to me,” explained Compton, who is on the staff of the Medical-Legal Partnership for Children at Kokua Kalihi Valley Comprehensive Family Services, and who paints what inspires him. “Jojo does so much for disadvantaged people, including people with disabilities. And he’s just a really nice guy.”

Peter is working on a UH doctorate in special education and serves as a translator for Pacific island immigrants in need of health care and legal help.

The exhibition opened with a performance by five young women who are members of Pacific Tongues, a troupe of slam poets who have won a number of awards in national competitions, and who work in the community to offer young people another outlet for ideas and feelings. Their searing words echoed the social theme with poems exploring intensely personal stories of pain involving wide-ranging topics such as racial inequity, body loathing, sexual discrimination and gender identity.

The art works were juried by a committee chaired by Law Librarian Roberta Woods.  The display was established by Law Library staff members, led by Law Library Director Victoria Szymczak, who has been planning to offer the public an exhibit like this for two years. “Our goal is to provide a forum where art and law meet on common ground,” she said.

The exhibition is open to the public and may be seen during library hours: Sundays through Thursdays, 8 a.m. to 9 p.m.; Fridays and Saturdays, 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.

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