Arts and Culture

A Short Introduction to Art on the Big Island of Hawaii

The culture of Hawai’i cherishes and endears the arts. From Hula festivals to fine arts, there seems to be a style, medium, or celebration of art for every taste out there. I see many new homebuyers who can’t wait to start shopping for décor to color the walls of their new home.

The history of Hawaiian art helps pair a story with décor. With the wealth of natural resources in Hawai’i, it comes as no surprise that a fundamental source of artistic inspiration is the land or ʻĀina The types of works they produced ranged from sculptures to cloths and skillful woodworks.

carrved wood figures in front of ocean big island hawaii

ʻĀina translates to “that which feeds” and expresses the deep Hawaiian spiritual connection to the ocean and land that provided life for centuries. These influences continue to shape and inspire the more modern styles of Hawaiian Oceanic art.

Present Day Art and Artists on the Big Island

Today, many artists on the Big Island continue to lean on the extraordinary landscape to share their talents with the world. A walk through Hilo and Kailua-Kona will reveal many of the Big Island’s best galleries. New themes are emerging that blend classical themes with innovative styles and mediums.

Harry Wishard – Realistic Landscape Painter

A native of Hawaii, his works are beautiful for their realistic depictions of the colors of the land and sea he grew up around. His pieces can be seen and purchased at the Wishard Gallery on the Big Island.

Jana Lam – Accessories Designer

Based out of Honolulu, Jana Lam is a creative textile designer who uses her designs to create a variety of accessories. Every piece is one-of-a-kind and handmade. Her style is bright, colorful, and emblematic of the native flora and fauna of Hawaii. You can find her colorful and fun pieces at various retailers across the islands including three on the Big Island.

Tai Lake – Master Woodworker

Tai Lake is a magnificent woodworker who is among the world’s most talented. His designs are built from local hardwoods that are harvested or salvaged from urban projects. His pieces can be seen at the Hawaii Wood guild shows and at the Isaacs Gallery in Waimea.

Museums on the Big Island

Lyman Museum and Mission House – 276 Haili Street, Hilo

Catering to the history buff, the Lyman House Museum tells the story of life on the Big Island as it was 150 years ago. The original mission house was home to David and Sarah Lyman who founded a boarding school nearby. It is the oldest standing wood structure on the Big Island. The museum tells the history of Hawaii’s many cultures and features a natural history gallery filled with artifacts.

lyman house museum hawaii island

Mokupapapa Discovery Center – 76 Kamehameha Avenue, Hilo

Mokupapapa Discovery Center is a natural science museum dedicated to showcasing the teeming life of coral reefs to the public. To Hawaii’s Northwest are a series of remote islands called Papahanaumokuakea. While they are uninhabited by people, these islands are home to more than 7,000 marine species. The 3,500-gallon saltwater tank in the discovery center teaches and shows the public the importance of ocean conservation.

ʻImiloa Astronomy Center – 600 Imiloa Pl, Hilo

Imiloa Astronomy Center is a unique science center where visitors can learn about Polynesian navigation methods and exploration. The museum is a fascinating combination of ancient natural history and modern science. The museum includes a 40,000 square-foot exhibition and planetarium complex to showcase the progress in modern astronomy.

astronomy museum big island hawaii

Let’s Chat

Give me a call at 808.938.3910 or email me if you are interested in learning more about art in Hawaii or anything in general about life on the Big Island of Hawaii.

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