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  • Sarah Taylor Ko

Huaka'i, Journey


Ka Wa Ma Mua, Ka Wa Ma Hope (The Time That Came Before The Time That Follows), 24" x 36", mixed media, 2022


Firehouse Gallery in Kamuela challenged Big Island artists to create work around the idea of huaka'i.


Huaka'i has connotations of a physical and spiritual journey. My intention was to reference both in my work.


I included the orange sail of the Hokulea whose shape was derived from a petroglyph near Kona. The circle within circle shapes are inspired by petroglyphs about birth and family as well as standing in for star systems often utilized in celestial navigation. Anuenue, the rainbow, appears as a blessing accompanied by partially obscured sea creatures to guide the canoes.


The title comes from a Hawaiian proverb often translated, the past informs the future, about our collective journey through time where, like the ancient navigators, we tack from the known star behind toward uncharted destinations.


I painted with mixed media on birch boards so that I could distress the surface. The resulting patina contrasts with the bright, tropical colors and modern design. I used heavy texture in this piece reminiscent of tapa cloth and alluding to movement.


I wanted to impart the feeling of floating in space, or in the ocean, and a connection with both wise ancestors and the natural world.


Come and see the show Huaka'i at Firehouse Gallery in Waimea/Kamuela from July 1 - August 28, 2022, or view the show online here:




My artwork won Honorable Mention and the Hawaii State Foundation For Culture and the Arts Recognition and Purchase Award. My painting will be displayed in one of over 640 sites statewide including schools, libraries, hospitals, airports, state office buildings, the State Capitol and at the Hawaiʻi State Art Museum.


To see the State of Hawaii's full collection of artwork, click here:




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