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17 May 2023

Threads of Knowledge: The Intricacies of Hawaiian Textiles

What that Quilt Knows About Me features quilts whose textiles and styles reflect global histories of conflict of the 18th and 19th centuries. One quilt in the exhibition is Kuʻu Hae Aloha (“My Beloved Flag”), a rare 19th-century Hawaiian flag quilt that carries powerful political meaning in opposition to the United States’ military-backed illegal overthrow in 1893.

The program “Threads of Knowledge: The Intricacies of Hawaiian Textiles” invites us to examine the ways in which vibrant Hawaiian cloth culture speaks to a complex system of material exchange, ongoing U.S. occupation and long-standing Indigenous-led efforts to resist, reclaim, and revitalize.

Native Hawaiian artist and activist Bernice Akamine draws from a long tradition of Hawaiian creative practices to reflect on the islands’ current historical and ecological moment. Composed in kapa (a bark cloth made from the wauke plant), her protest piece Hae Hawaii reconsiders the Hawaiian flag quilt at its most basic element to express patriotic pride and the perseverance of the lāhui (“the People”).

Art historian Emily Cornish has recently begun a project that considers how royal Hawaiian women used fiber arts to navigate Hawaiian social and political concerns during the nineteenth century. The scholar examines how objects like Queen Liliʻuokalani’s imprisonment quilt (which features the Hawaiian flag) were used as expressions of Hawaiian sovereignty and political protest.

Joiri Minaya, a multidisciplinary artist, destabilizes historic and contemporary representations of Indigenous identity by concealing bodies in tropical pattern design and fabric. In her series I can wear tropical print now where she juxtaposes “Aloha” shirts with Hawaiian-style design prints, the artist reveals the colonial violence hidden in the production and consumption of tourist fantasy spaces.

In dialogue with artist and curator Drew Kahuʻāina Broderick, Akamine, Cornish and Minaya will explore the Hawaiian flag quilt and tropical aesthetics from a post-colonial perspective. The history of Hawaiian textile design and pattern will serve as a springboard for a broader consideration of tropicalism, and its entanglement with settler colonialism and the appropriation of Indigenous lands and traditions.

Space is limited; advance registration is required. Please consider making a donation when you register to support ongoing virtual programming. Instructions for joining with a Zoom link and password will be provided by email upon registration confirmation under “Additional Information.” Closed captioning will be provided in English. For questions or to request accessibility accommodations, please email

About the Artists

Bernice Akamine is an artist, cultural practitioner, educator, and activist, from Honolulu, Oʻahu currently living and working on Hawaiʻi Island. She is known for her work in sculpture and installation, which often blends traditional and contemporary art forms, methods, and materials in order to address pressing sociopolitical and environmental issues to the people of Hawaiʻi. Akamine received her BFA and MFA from the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa. She is a recipient of a 2015 Native Hawaiian Artist Fellowship from the Native Arts and Cultures Foundation; a 2012 Community Scholar Award from the Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of Natural History; and a 1999 Visiting Artist Award at the Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of the American Indian in New York City.

Joiri Minaya is a Dominican-United Statesian multi-disciplinary artist whose work investigating the female body within constructions of identity, multi-cultural social spaces and hierarchies. Born in New York, U.S, she grew up in the Dominican Republic. She graduated from the Escuela Nacional de Artes Visuales of Santo Domingo in the Dominican Republic (2009), the Altos de Chavón School of Design (2011) and Parsons the New School for Design (2013). She has participated in residencies like Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture, Guttenberg Arts, Smack Mellon, BronxArtSpace, Bronx Museum’s AIM Program, the NYFA Mentoring Program for Immigrant Artists, Transmedia Lab at MA Scène Nationale, Red Bull House of Art Detroit, Lower East Side Printshop Keyholder Artist, Socrates Sculpture Park, Art Omi and Vermont Studio Center. Minaya has exhibited internationally across the Caribbean and the U.S. She is a grantee from the Nancy Graves Foundation, the Rema Hort Mann Foundation (Emerging Artist Grant), the Joan Mitchell Foundation (Emerging Artist and Painters and Sculptors Grants), the Great prize and the Audience Award XXV Concurso de Arte Eduardo León Jimenes, the Exhibition Prize Centro de la Imagen (D.R.), and the Great Prize of the XXVII Biennial at the Museo de Arte Moderno (D.R).

Emily Cornish is a doctoral candidate in the history of art at the University of Michigan. Her dissertation is a comparative analysis of ways Indigenous Hawaiian and Māori women engaged with photography during the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries and used this technology as a tool for innovative self-expression and maintaining cultural continuity in the face of settler colonialism. She currently holds a Luce-ACLS fellowship in American art.

Drew Kahuʻāina Broderick is an artist, curator, and educator from Mōkapu, a peninsula on the windward side of Oʻahu, in U.S.-occupied Hawai’i. Currently, he serves as director of Koa Gallery at Kapiʻolani Community college and as a member of kekahi wahi (2020–), a grassroots film initiative documenting stories of transformation across Moananui. Raised in a deep-rooted matriarchy, his work is guided by the multigenerational efforts of Kānaka ʻŌiwi women—especially his mother, maternal aunties, and grandmother—who have devoted their lives to art, education, organizing, and community in Hawaiʻi. Recently, he co-curated ʻAi Pōhaku, Stone Eaters (2023) with Josn Tengan and Noelle M.K.Y. Kahanu; Hawaiʻi Triennial 2022: Pacific Century – E Hoʻomau no Moananuiākea with Melissa Chiu and Miwako Tezuka; and Mai hoʻohuli i ka lima i luna (2020) with Kapulani Landgraf and Kaili Chun.

Images: Left: Attributed to Mary Sherman Thompson, Hawaiian Flag Quilt, Hawaii, Late 19th century, Cotton, 77 x 75 in. American Folk Art Museum, New York, gift of Larry Amundson and Gordanna Amundson Cole, 2001.19. 1 Middle: Bernice Akamine, Hae Hawaii, Hawaiian Flag, 2021, undyed tapa and bark cloth. Courtesy of the artist. Left: Joiri Minaya, I can wear tropical print now series, 2018, found used shirt, found fabric, 40 x 32 x 3. Courtesy of the artist.

6:00 pm–7:15 pm

Virtual; free with registration