Today I am writing to you from the Garden of the Gods on Maui. Oh wait, that was 2 years ago, I guess better late than never?
One of my newer paintings for the upcoming Before We’re Gone show at Lauritzen Gardens in Omaha (Jan 9-March 30, 2020) is The Endangered Species of Maui (ESoM). It’s hard to believe that on an island like Maui, with so much natural space, and in my mind, perfect weather, there could be plants or animals that are disappearing. I researched species native to Maui through the ICUN Red List website, and decided on this pair.
As with all of my paintings, ESoM started with a recycled canvas (old dropcloth) and paint gathered from friends and neighbors. Several layers of color, shapes, textures and drips later, I mixed fresh pigment into the recycled paint to bring out the lively colors of the Honey Creeper and Island Aster.
There are several types of Honey Creepers in Hawaii. I chose the Scarlet Honey Creeper (I’iwi) as the subject for this painting because it is native to Maui, and I was drawn to the bright red feathers and long hummingbird-like bill. This little six inch bird is endangered, bird malaria and pox had a significant impact (95% of the population), and as a result moved to higher elevation to escape mosquitoes. Unfortunately, as climate change is threatening their new habitat, making it more hospitable for mosquitoes.
Although declining in population, the Island Aster (Hesperomannia arbuscula) can be found on islands of Hawaii; mainly O’ahu and Maui. Feral pigs (I never saw those, but did see lots of feral chickens) and humans are the main threat to this plant. As with many beautiful flowers, people are taking the plants from their natural habitats in hopes of growing them. And, because this happens in both directions, there are non-native plants that are thriving on the islands, to the point of overtaking the Island Asters.
I felt the need to make a bolder statement with this ESoM – it needed to veer away from the subtlety with my previous subjects and create an awakening. Within those many layers are hidden conversations. Where in nature do you find perfect corners? Are the eyes peering out from the gardens wondering if they are safe? Are the animals keeping an eye on us? Are we looking for them?
Endangered Species of Maui
Acrylic house paint on salvaged canvas dropcloth
22″ x 34″, 2019 #3116