HONOLULU — On Thursday, two new Hawaiian cultural exhibits were unveiled on the third floor of the Hawaii Convention Center — an extensive Hawaiian featherwork installation by Kumu Hulu Nui (Feather Master of Ancient Hawaiian Featherwork) Rick San Nicolas, and a permanent display exploring The Healer Stones of Kapaemahu.
Several feather capes, a mahiole (feathered helmet) and lei pāpale (hatbands) are carefully placed in the Pūali‘ahu (to never forget the ‘ahu ‘ula) Feather Cape exhibit showcasing the work of renowned artist Rick San Nicolas. This self-taught artist uses traditional Hawaiian techniques he has practiced for nearly 25 years.
This square peg mahiole is the only one of this style with square posts that support the crest that has no feathers remaining — it’s the only one known to exist with feathers applied. It belongs to Ron Jarrett and the Jarrett ohana. (Photo courtesy of Hawaii Convention Center)
The display includes a cape designed by the artist for Princess Ka‘iulani made of peacock feathers, a replica of a feather cape worn by Prince Jonah Kūhiō Kalaniana‘ole, and a replica of a cloak worn by an ancient high chief of the Kingdom of Maui, Pi‘ilani. ‘Ahu kaua, or battle cloaks traditionally worn over one shoulder and under the other, rarely seen in exhibits, are also showcased. Feathers for all pieces were ethically sourced.
“The exhibit was carefully designed by Rick San Nicolas and Kauila Kawelu Barber to share the history and stories of our Native Hawaiian ancestors, as well as the craft of featherwork,” said San Nicolas. “Viewers will follow the stories of our past through today and learn about how the pieces were used to adorn Hawaii’s ali‘i (chief or chiefess).”
The exhibit sits between rooms 302 and 306. The public can learn more about the artist on his website.
The Healer Stones of Kapaemahu is now a permanent display at the Hawaii Convention Center. (Photo courtesy Hawaii Convention Center)
Also on the third floor outside Theater 320 is a replica of The Healer Stones of Kapaemahu, which recently had its run at the Bishop Museum. The original stones are located along Kalakaua Ave. near the Duke Kahanamoku statue. The monument honors four legendary māhū — individuals who embody both the male and female spirit — who brought the healing arts from Tahiti to Hawaii centuries ago.
Historic photographs, large painted representations of the healers and an eight-minute Academy Award-shortlisted animated film that tells the story of the healers accompany the display.
“This exhibit shines a light on the deep history of these stones and furthers the center’s sense of place by showcasing this important Waikiki landmark, which is just minutes away,” said Dean Hamer, a film director and curator of The Healer Stones of Kapaemahu exhibit.
In partnership with the Hawaii State Foundation on Culture and the Arts and its Art in Public Places program, the Hawaii Convention Center is home to a permanent art collection. The venue also hosts rotating collections in displays throughout the building.
Sarah Yamanaka covers events, environmental and community news for Spectrum News Hawaii. She can be reached at [email protected]