First Hawaiʻi Biennial falls into place


Isabella Hughes gives her presentation on the first Honolulu Biennial function.

Aaron Veincent, staff writer

From March 8th 2017 till May 8th 2017, Honolulu will be hosting its first Biennial directed by one of the three co-founders, Isabella Hughes. Inspired by the work of art, Hughes spent her early years within the walls of art museums. The artistic background resulted her appreciation for art to grow, branching off into a whole new experience that she never would have expected.

As a graduate from Punahou, Hughes was seen for her true inspiration and passion of art. With her high school life being revolved around the specific environment, it resulted outsiders to view her as an opportunist in which they can take upon for further work. The outlook created an advantage for Hughes to take upon the opportunities for her own benefit, thus making her capable to travel. Taking on different cultures and artistic point of views Hughes met Fumio Nanjo, a renowned founder for Japan biennials.

Nanjo gave insight to Hughes about the event, in which fascinated her and caused Hughes to return to Hawaiʻi with the information. As a curator Hughes and the fellow founders of the Biennial Foundation, Dr. Koan Baysa and Katherine Tuider, took it upon themselves to start up the first ever biennial located in Hawaiʻi and took off in 2014 to work towards this goal.

The biennial is an event in which focuses on contemporary art from various cultures with an overall outcome to tie the cultures together. American, Asian as well as local Hawaiian, will be represented, being the first biennial ever to cover this specific range group. This draws importance to enthrall the audience with the diversity. Displayed through the form of art, since “art is such a wonderful way to learn about many different cultures,” a thought in which Hughes believes and stated, will be the lesson of the biennial.

Within the Biennial there will be workshops for young artist, in which they are able to learn specific tools. As well as guided tours for the museums of the numerous art works. These tours will be free for university students, presenting an opportunity to improve education locally.  The event will also draw more than locals in, but tourist as well due to it being the first multicultural biennial.

A large number of tourism is supposed to be drawn to this event, especially from Japan due to Hughes connection with Nanjo. Alongside to the large numbers being brought from tourism, it goes along with the large numbers the event is supposed to bring in economically. Around $49.7 million has been tested to be brought in, as well as 42,500 out of state visitors and 32,000 from in state.

As a plethora of people is brought in, not only the culture gains reputation and respect, but the subject of art itself, becomes something taken more seriously and not “Looked down on” as stated by Chelsea Weaver a grad student at UH Mānoa. Isabella Hughes pursues her passion for art by representing it more widely. Working in a way that will bring the same results the museums once had on her.