Art as Wayfinding
Imagine using only the constellations to cross the ocean. The Polynesian wayfinders navigated uncharted waters using the star anchored behind them to forge ahead. My paintings also reference the past to chart a novel course. They are explorations orienting identity in time.
I utilize multiple layers, a process that lends itself to not only the idea of time passing but also of movements of the spirit going on just below the surface.
My work is an invitation to notice your life, to pause, and to reorient forward using the familiar blinking star on the aft horizon.
Sarah Taylor Ko
An invitational show celebrating the unique land and culture of Hawai'i.
Viewing online and in person from January 19th-March 1st, 2021 at Viewpoints Gallery 3620 Baldwin Avenue, Makawao, Maui, Hawaii.
Click here for more photos and information:
ARTIST STATEMENT: The ancient wayfinding skills would have been lost 50 years ago were it not for the Polynesian Voyaging Society, the legendary navigating skills of Mau Piailug, and the vision of Herb Kane who painted the Hokule’a before it existed and dreamed it’s name which in english is Arcturus, “star of gladness”.
There were many challenges in recreating an authentic double hulled ocean voyaging canoe.The proportion of the sails, for example, remained elusive until the petroglyphs in Kona informed the shape. They appear to be upside down, but navigator Chad Baybayan says if you want to sail like a Hawai’ian you must turn your sails and your mind to empty them of preconceived notions.
As a microcosm of the world the Hokule’a has so much to teach us about interpersonal harmony, connection with the past, and living as part of the natural world. Differences must be worked out quickly when the farthest you can be from a crew member is 60 feet. Standing on the canoe at night the navigators feel a deep connection to their ancestors who traveled the same routes so many thousands of years before. The crew becomes a living organism with the canoe as it’s heart. Wayfinding is constantly adjusting that body to the ocean, wind, and weather.
In my painting series celebrating wayfinding I included many of the stars used in celestial navigation, the moon, geometry, the Kona petroglyphs, and references to sea creatures often encountered on the journey. My aim was to honor the joyful spirit of exploration through color, scale, and subtle overlapping shapes suggesting the past informing the present. Mr. Baybayan told me that if the navigator is patient, the islands will reveal themselves. I hope that as you look at my work, you will constantly discover new things as the paintings disclose their hidden treasures.
A R T U P D A T E S
Subscribe here for quarterly updates on studio projects, upcoming events, and art tips.