The artwork of Native Hawaiian artist Solomon Enos in a new exhibit featuring pieces reflecting on the history of nuclear testing and devastation in the Marshall Islands is on display at the University of Hawaiʻiat Mānoa Hamilton Library.
The collection “ʻŌnaehana Malu—Peace Systems” was created during Enos’ visit in August 2023 to Bikini and neighboring atolls in the Marshall Islands where he experienced first-hand the impact of climate change compounded by the legacy of nuclear testing in the Pacific.
“As a Native Hawaiian artist I have been working with the Marshallese communities in Majuro and home in Honolulu to create murals and graphic novels about this multifaceted and ongoing tragedy, and after visiting islands that have become ghost-towns due to radioactive contamination, the trauma of the loss of land and history has had a massive inspirational impact on me,” said Enos.
UH Librarian Clem Guthro said the exhibit is part of the libraryʻs efforts to showcase Native Hawaiian scholarship in a prominent way.
“Art is a type of scholarship, and since Solomon is one of the foremost Native Hawaiian artists and one I know, I thought it was a great opportunity for the library to showcase his latest pieces and share it with the campus community,” Guthro said.
Guthro coordinated with Enos on possible exhibit ideas for the past year. Upon Enosʻ return from his August trip, he contacted Guthro about the new paintings he had just created and wanted to debut at the library.
Located in the Elevator Gallery on the main floor of Hamilton Library, the exhibit features 28 wood canvas art pieces that showcase cryptic future technologies to heal and channel new growth into islands and lands affected by climate change and pollution. The structures manifest as strange dancing forms made of noble plastics and other benign materials.
Enos said the message he received during this life-changing trip was, “If we can harness great power to facilitate destruction, so too can we move in the polar opposite direction, turn our hands, minds and hearts to profound systems of peace.”
He will give a talk about the new exhibit on October 12 at 4 p.m. in Hamilton Rm. 306. The exhibit will be on display at Hamilton Library through December.
No stranger to exhibiting his work on the UH Mānoa campus, Enos was also the artist behind “Healthy Land, Safe Communities, Loving Families,” an 800-foot long lei maile mural surrounding Bachman Hall in recognition of domestic violence awareness. That mural was created with the help of UH Mānoa staff and volunteers within three days in October 2021.