Art at Thomas Square–Press Release


Wednesday, Dec. 30, 2020
Press Office: 768-5768

New artwork dedicated at Thomas Square

HONOLULUThe City and County of Honolulu today dedicated two new temporary pieces of artwork as part of the Art at Thomas Square program. The art installation program at Thomas Square Park on South Beretania Street is meant to enhance the visitor experience at the park, beautify the space, and engage the public with thought-provoking artwork.

The Mayor’s Office of Culture and the Arts commissioned two temporary and site-specific artworks by O‘ahu artists– Bernice Akamine and Sean Connelly. This is the artists’ inaugural City art commission which will be on view at Thomas Square for one year.

1) “Ho‘okumu—Moana (The Source—The Deep Ocean)” by Bernice Akamine (2020). Ho‘okumu refers to the source of water starting from a single raindrop drawn from the mist and clouds in the mountains that flows downward and becomes part of the Moana. Using stainless steel wire and one of the oldest styles of net-making, Ho‘okumu—Moana illustrates this first droplet as light and airy. Small crystals are woven on the top sphere representing a navigational tool and recognizing the importance of celestial navigation and connection with the Moana.

2) “16 Cube Truss (About Building Systems)” by Sean Connelly (2020). The sculpture is a cantilevered construction to observe the technology of lashing used structurally in a common building system or framework. The work is made of wood constructed by Ian Eichelberger with lashings installed by Hawaiian artist Kupihea.

“Art at Thomas Square is part of a vision we had for this historic park”, said Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell. “The artwork installed encourages people to come together to enjoy nature, art, and history. Mahalo to artists, Bernice Akamine and Sean Connelly, for sharing their talent and creativity with all of us through the two temporary art pieces dedicated today. I would also like to thank Executive Director Misty Kela‘i of the Mayor’s Office of Culture and the Arts for her hard work on this program. I believe we live in the most beautiful city in the world and it’s through programs like this, that we are able to keep it that way.”

The total cost of the two new pieces is approximately $35,000.

There are two permanent artworks installed drawn from the City and County’s art collection and relocated in Thomas Square:

1) “Tree” by Charles Watson (1974). The sculpture is made of steel and is 10’ (H) x 3’

2) “Makiki Tree” by Edward Brownlee (1967). The sculpture is made of Polyester resin over steel armature and is 44” x 59”


About the Artists:

Bernice Akamine is a Kanaka Maoli artist. Her artwork has taken multiple forms including glass, featherwork, and kapa cloth. Akamine is an advocate for Native Hawaiian issues, using her artwork to preserve cultural knowledge and bring attention to the colonial invasion of Hawai‘i and its continued effects on the native Hawaiian population. Akamine earned two degrees from the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa: a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree and a Master of Fine Arts degree in sculpture and glass. Her work is in the permanent collection of numerous museums including the American Museum of Natural History in New York, Peabody Essex Museum in Massachusetts, Hawai’i State Foundation on Culture and the Arts, and Queensland Art Gallery.

Sean Connelly is a local artist-architect from Kalihi and He‘eia, and is a graduate of Castle High School. His work promotes justice-advancing futures that address the dynamics of oceanic geography today. Sean’s studio-driven research is about creating an architectural history and theory from Hawai‘i. These include the new-media installations such as Hawai‘i Futures (2010), a virtual intervention on island urbanism, and Ala Wai Centennial (2018-ongoing), a social practice in architecture about the future of Honolulu. Sean’s sculptural installations have been exhibited at ii Gallery, Honolulu Museum of Art, Honolulu Biennial at Foster Botanical Gardens, and Luggage Store Gallery in San Francisco. He currently teaches an architecture studio at Columbia University and MIT.