I am a life-long writer. Words are my clay, my oils, my musical notes. I truly treasure the massage of syllables in the creation of message. For the past twenty years, the form and focus of those words, paragraphs, stories, and books have been directed at awakening a sleeping world to two things: the sacred and profound wisdom within the ancient Native Hawaiian culture - and the painful result of colonial occupation (read. the United States) on that culture and those Native people. That has been my sole intention - my only job.
But this week I confess to the limit of what my words can say - or even more - do. And never has that limitation been so apparent.
This week I encountered the visual artist Daniel Finchum’s newest project, “Bruises in the Garden” - and I am humbled. For these remarkable images - “A picture is worth a thousand words" - doesn’t come close to defining Finchum’s accomplishment. What I have worked years to tickle alive with words, Mr. Finchum splatted across my face and into my heart wordlessly..
Even in this testimonial to the power of his images, I am hamstrung. I will honor that limitation by offering a small sampling of his remarkable photographs scattered from the top to bottom of my writing here - and I will direct you to find the fullness of them yourself.
I challenge our Return Voyage followers - those friends who generously support ‘Iokepa and my work, who treasure the spiritual gifts within ‘Iokepa’s culture, who mourn the oppression of his people. I challenge you to open your eyes and your hearts to Mr. Finchum’s newest work, "Bruises in the Garden.”
“The Garden” is the heart of that sacred Native culture. The “Bruises”…well, consider the impact of tourism, of putting a price-tag on a culture. Consider too, the American military occupation of a quarter of the Hawaiian Islands. Consider finally, the impoverished, unhealthy, often homeless Native Hawaiian people.
Daniel Finchum is the rare living master of an antique photographic process - wet plate photography. He writes on his website: “It is a difficult and unpredictable hand crafted process developed in 1851.”
I am no chemist and I expect only a few of our readers are. I give up on defining his process or his magnificent ancient camera and lenses. Instead, permit me a few words.
Finchum’s images ooze with emotion. They scream, they demand. They do not allow us to fall asleep again. A couple of venues here on Kaua’i refused their walls to “Bruises in the Garden.” They are cowards, fearful of commercial consequences to their business interests.
‘Iokepa and I bought the album - the book that collects the gallery of images. It sits on our coffee table. We pry it open it daily. We argue about it with continuing passion. What does that image mean? Does this implicate the Native people for being complicit? Neither of us doubt the truth of it - neither the Native nor the malihini (guest) . We agree that it is the rare gift that continues to provoke, disturb, and send us deeper into ourselves - as any genuine art must.
As I splash a few copied images of Finchum’s art across this blog, I fear - though they most certainly will capture the intensity of the subject (his amazing staging of subject) - that the force of his technique may be lost to my shoddy reproduction.
I am humbled in the face of these images - and of the enduring pain, strength and beauty of the Native Hawaiian people.
I send you directly to Daniel Finchum. His website: www.KauaiAinaArt.com His phone: 808 639 7126
Feeding Her Baby
Blitzkrieg Baby (Aloha Ammo)