tradewinds, a solo exhibition of works by textile artist and sculptor H. Mitsu Shimabukuro was on view in the Praxis Gallery from March 5 through April 30, 2021.

Watch the virtual opening reception with the artist:

Artist Statement:

“A strong wind makes me homesick instantly. Maui’s northeastern tradewinds are the strongest within Hawai’i and their presence fits into my memory of the landscape just as the mountains or coastline

but as a blurred line of vegetation, 

a howling, 

my own chilled bracing. 

As someone with attachment trauma my first points of connection were with my environment: working with endemic plants, feeling myself endlessly surprised by the colors of Haleakala crater, trying to map how sand sounds underwater. I grew up being loved and held by place.

Tradewinds also speak to my love for duality and extremes. The northeastern coastal winds push air up and over the mountains. As the air rises into higher altitudes and chills it falls as rain on the windward slopes. The nowdry air crests the mountain top and descends the leeward slopes, leaving them dry and prone to drought. Annual rainfall can vary from 8 inches on one side of the island to 404 inches on the other. This effect is known as rain shadowing. 

This show looks to hold similar polarities. There is an obvious joy in color, pattern, and texture. Subtly woven through are meditations on generational trauma, memory loss, and ancestral knowing. What does the ambiguous loss of homeland mean to one’s identity? And what does it mean to build homeland as mixed, queer, non-binary? 

What does it look like to dig into the in-between? 

If time is non-linear, and if a body retains all of its travels, what of that knowledge goes into woven cloth?

In a recent lecture, Miguel López, close friend and curator of artist Cecilia Vicuña, spoke of coming across a palabrarma (word-weapon) of hers that he had not seen before:

CON o SER            WITH or BE

    ser   con                 be      with

‘It is based on the word conocer [to know]: which is that conocer does not represent comprehending and possessing, but ser con [being with]: the link, the connecting tissue. “To know” is therefore not a place, a destination, but the interrelationship, the being-with, the being-beside.’

I do not see materials as passive. I trust my experiences of them, and bring forth these questions as a space for us to inhabit.” 

Artist Bio:

H. Mitsu Shimabukuro was born and raised in Hawai’i on the island of Maui. They earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Studio Art from Yale University in 2013 and upon completion of their degree worked as the printmaking studio technician for the University of Tennessee School of Art in Knoxville from 2014-2017. In 2019, they graduated from the Haywood Community College’s Professional Crafts Fiber Program in Clyde, North Carolina. Mitsu has shown nationally and internationally, with shows at Tiger Strikes Asteroid Gallery in Philadelphia, the CICA Museum in Gimpo-si, Korea, as well as completing residencies at the KKV Grafik Studio in Malmö, Sweden, and the Studios Residency at MASS MoCA. They are currently living and working at the Penland School of Craft in North Carolina through the school’s Core Fellowship program. To learn more about Mitsu, visit their website.

Exhibition images by Leah Trznadel

Exhibition support from North Carolina Arts Council