Artwork Archive

Laura_tribute_lr

“Laura Kina: A Many-Splendored Thing”
curated by Larry Lee for the Foundation for Asian American Independent Media
April 2 – May 30, 2010
Gene Siskel Film Center
Chicago, IL

A retrospective featuring over thirty selected paintings, drawings and textiles (1995-present) from her Refrigerator, Hapa Soap Opera, Loving, Aloha Dreams, and Devon Avenue Sampler series as well as some early and new works on exhibit for the first time. Kina’s art collectively embraces “ikigai” or the Japanese belief of “a sense of life worth living” and reflects her “postcolonial pop aesthetic” as a multiracial Okinawan Jewish artist/educator/scholar living in a South Asian Indian neighborhood in Chicago.

Glance quickly at a Laura Kina painting and what comes to mind at first is Hello Kitty goes to Bollywood in Pearl Harbor by a Coca Cola sign. Or surely Pop gone haywire as the resultant byproduct the artist creates deftly fuses these loaded icons into a NeoPop Orientalism or less ironical Post Japonisme of East morphing West and vice versa not just Americanized but transnationalized.

Yet to label her oeuvre strictly as such is an injustice because what you also see ostensibly hybridizes the anecdotal and historical, family and society, private and public conflated through collage of art imitating, or drawing from, life, particularly her life as a mixed Asian “hapa haole” alternately fascinated, bemused and obsessed with being in-between.

Which is why upon a closer look describing her artistic process akin to “Love is a Many-Splendored Thing” is so apt. Picture, if you recall, Jennifer Jones as a forlorn Eurasian doctor atop a hill overlooking Kowloon Bay in Hong Kong pining for her lover, a married journalist returned to America played by William Holden and come to understand why Kina’s version of her floating world so much resembles the movie itself. Indeed, both “colorfully” depict mixed race representations beyond accepted cultural norms except that Hollywood in this maudlin adaptation based on true events really does exoticize the subject matter as taboo whereas Kina selectively reinvents the nonfictional into the fictive Asian American mainstream. Not commercially slick as something pejorative but professionally crafted by her ability to wield a brush with facility, precision and grace to be part artifice, partly romantic. So not only is it dramatization but autobiography beyond pop culture in collision with Pop Art.

And that is her genius: Kina circumvents the so-called “multicultural” melodrama instead preferring a more straightforward approach celebrating the sameness of difference that in doing so resists the role of victim inherent to the book, movie or song with a good-natured smile, bright colors and an even sunnier disposition as it were. But this is not to say that her overall work is apolitical. Nothing could be further from the truth as she constantly confronts the status quo not in search of but to challenge identity as a given. In fact, her practice seems centered on the question about how such multiplicities that constitutes the Asian American Diaspora become seamlessly perceived if not understood as in her series of life-sized portraits in charcoal dealing with the famous Loving vs. Virginia Supreme Court case.

By this then, “many” to Kina is not so much an adjective as it functions as a conceptual directive. Bringing many things together, occupying many places at once belies the generalization of how she combines and recontextualizes the multitude of bits and pieces into layered, oftentimes multiple paneled compositions full of the recognizably everyday versus the intimately arcane. A swatch of fabric belonging to her maternal grandmother, floral patterns from kimonos, a snippet from a favorite Brady Bunch episode, an old black and white family photograph, these very personal images never appear detached as if truncated or worse amputated but rather beautiful because Laura loves to share a glimpse of her past. So true to form, she bends time, dovetails related events and mixes mass media which, of course, compels the viewer to acknowledge and advocate “ikigai” or the Japanese belief of “a sense of life worth living.”

The work on display covering almost the last fifteen years reflects this attitude of a world we are very much curious about and a vital part of. Now just be happy to see the way Laura Kina lightens the gravity by which everyone walks through it nimbly and sprightly.

2_Kina_GeneSiskel_2010Installation view from the Hapa Soap Opera series
3_Kina_GeneSiskel_2010

4_Kina_GeneSiskel_2010Installation view from the Hapa Soap Opera series
5_Kina_GeneSiskel_2010Installation view from the Hapa Soap Opera series6_Kina_GeneSiskel_2010Installation view from the Devon Avenue Sampler series7_Kina_GeneSiskel_2010Installation view (left) from the Aloha Dreams series and (right) Hapa Soap Opera series.8_Kina_GeneSiskel_2010

9_Kina_GeneSiskel_2010

10_Kina_GeneSiskel_2010

11_LauraKina_TheBlessers_2010The Blessers
Oil on canvas
48” x 72”
2008

12_Kina_GeneSiskel_2010Spam Sushi
Acrylic and collage on canvas
36 x 48”
199513_Kina_GeneSiskel_2010Tea Party
Oil on canvas
36” x 42”
1994
Private collection.14_Kina_GeneSiskel_2010Installation view from the Refrigerator series (2001 MFA thesis work)15_Kina_GeneSiskel_2010

16_Kina_GeneSiskel_2010Rice Cooker
Oil on canvas
3 panels 12” x 12” each
199917_Kina_GeneSiskel_2010Famous Asian Americans in History
Collaborative drawing with Larry Lee and Carlton Mok
Pen and ink and watercolor on paper
20 drawings @ 12”x 12” each
199518_Kina_GeneSiskel_2010Kadosh
Acrylic and collage on canvas
30”x30”
1999


1_Kina_AlohaDreams_TinaHyunTina Hyun Giving Me A Pedicure
Acrylic on canvas
40×30 in. 2006
Private collection Suquamish, WA

Laura Kina: Aloha Dreams
June 9–July 21, 2007

Diana Lowenstein Fine Arts
2043 N Miami Avenue
Miami, FL 33127

2007 Artist Statement:

My mixed media paintings explore dreams of paradise. Like the Post-Impressionist painter Paul Gauguin’s paintings of Tahiti, Aloha Dreams uses Hawai’i as a tropical muse to explore pattern, color, figuration and abstraction. Beyond the gloss and allure of palm trees and plate lunch, the works in this exhibition delve into a more complicated history using images from popular culture, textile design, and my own family history as sugar cane plantation workers on the Big Island of Hawaii to focus on immigration/migration, heritage tourism and Orientalist fantasies.

Download the press release.

2_Kina_AlohaDreams_RaisingCaneRaising Cane
Oil on canvas
40×30 in. 2007
Private collection Poulsbo, WA

3_Kina_AlohaDreams_Kina_MichelleTuckerDyingMyHairMichelle Tucker Dying My Hair
Acrylic on canvas
40×30 in. 2007

4_Kina_AlohaDreams_Kina_Hanahana_2007Hanahana
Oil on canvas
40″x30″
2007
Private collection Poulsbo, WA

5_Kina_AlohaDreams_DiamondHead_2007Diamond Head
Acrylic, Envirotex on panel
14 x 18 in. 2007

6_Kina_AlohaDreams_EwaBeachSunset_2007Ewa Beach Sunset
Acrylic, Envirotex on panel
14 x 18 in. 2007
Private collection Washington DC

7_Kina_AlohaDreams_ParadiseCove_2006Me and Joe at Paradise Cove
Acrylic, glitter, Envirotex on panel
14 x 18 in. 2006

8_Kina_AlohaDreams_MequittaAhuja_2006Mequitta Ahuja
Acrylic and glitter on canvas
27 x 48 in. 2006

9_Kina_AlohaDreams_Sam_2006Sam
Acrylic, glitter and origami paper on canvas
27 x 48 in. 2006
Private collection Washington DC

10_Kina_AlohaDreams_FlowersForYourHeart_2003-2007Flowers for Your Heart
Acrylic and ink on paper 9 panels
30×30 in. each 2003 and 2007
Private collection Chicago, IL

11_Kina_AlohaDreams_Tabu_2007Aloha Dreams: Tabu
Oil on wood panel
30×30 in. 2007
Private collection Washington DC

12_Kina_AlohaDreams_Matson_2007Aloha Dreams: Matson
Enamel on wood panel
30×30 in. 2007
Private collection Washington DC

13_Kina_AlohaDreams_Porthole_2007Aloha Dreams: Porthole
Oil and colored pencil on wood panel
30×30 in. 2007
Private collection Washington DC

14_Kina_AlohaDreams_PearlHarbor_2007Aloha Dreams: Pearl Harbor
Oil on wood panel
30×30 in. 2007

15_Kina_AlohaDreams_OverTheRainbow_2007Aloha Dreams: Over the Rainbow
Enamel, acrylic and colored pencil on wood panel
30×30 in. 2007
Private collection Chicago, IL

16_Kina_AlohaDreams_LocoMoco_2007Aloha Dreams: Loco Moco
Acrylic on wood panel
30×30 in. 2007
Private collection Chicago, IL

17_Kina_AlohaDreams_Mishpoche_Installationshot_2004-2005Mishpoche
Acrylic enamel on MDF, polyurethane, tatami mats, slippers
145 x 147 in.
2004–2005
(destroyed 2007)

18_Kina_OceanViewInn_2008Ocean View Inn
Oil on wood panel
30″ x 30″
2008

19_Kina_Piihonua_2008Piihonua
Oil on wood panel
30″ x 30″
2008
Private collection Chicago, IL

20_Kina_Primo_2008Primo
Enamel and acrylic on wood panel
30″ x 30″
2008
Private collection Los Angeles,CA

21_Kina_HoHana_2008Hana-hana
Mixed media on wood panel
2 panels 30×30 in. each 2008

Installation photographs

KinaInstallationshot1

KinaInstallationshot2

KinaInstallationshot3

KinaInstallationshot4

KinaInstallationshot5 JPG

KinaInstallationshot6

KinaInstallationshot7

KinaInstallationshot8


1_Kina_Loving_CallaThomson_webLoving Series: Calla Thompson
Charcoal on paper
42.5 x 34 in.
2006

Grand Project (a now defunct alternative space)
61 Lyon Street, New Haven, CT 06511

September 24-Novermber 19, 2006
Laura Kina Loving Artist Statement

Inspired by the landmark 1967 Supreme Court case Loving v. Virginia that overturned this nations last anti-miscegenation law, Loving consists of nine life-sized charcoal portraits of “mixed-race” friends and acquaintances and one self-portrait. The works are hung in a meditative half circle that simultaneously embraces and confronts the viewer. For the Loving series, I created a minyan of individuals whose common tie is that of being multiracial. All of the figures in the Loving series are seated cross-legged, a pose that allows each individual to be centered physically and, perhaps, spiritually. Some stare directly, others lean forward as if something is about to happen, one woman has her eyes closed and is taking a deep breath. Time seems suspended. The sitters’ range in age from their 20’s to their 40’s, all rainbow children of the civil rights movement. Through the process of drawing and subtle gestures in the sitters’ poses, I wanted to capture a sense of community, the ability to connect with others and the distances between each of us.

2_Kina_Loving_Erika_webLoving Series: Erika
Charcoal on paper
57 x 34 in.
2006

3_Kina_Loving_ScooterLaForge_webLoving Series: Scooter LaForge
Charcoal on paper
42.5 x 34 in.
2006

4_Kina_Loving_DannyPudi_webLoving Series: Danny Pudi
Charcoal on paper
42.5 x 34 in.
2006

5_Kina_Loving_ShoshannaWeinberger_webLoving Series: Shoshanna Weinberger
Charcoal on paper
42.5 x 34 in.
2006

6_Kina_Loving_SelfPortrait_webLoving Series: Self-portrait
Charcoal on paper
42.5 x 34 in.
2006

7_Kina_Loving_ErikGlenn_webLoving Series: Erik Glenn
Charcoal on paper
42.5 x 34 in.
2006

8_Kina_Loving_ElenaRubin_webLoving Series: Elena Rubin
Charcoal on paper
42.5 x 34 in.
2006

9_Kina_Loving_GregGrucel_webLoving Series: Greg Grucel
Charcoal on paper
42.5 x 34 in.
2006

10_Kina_Loving_EvelinaPerez_webLoving Series: Evelina Perez
Charcoal on paper
42.5 x 34 in.
2006

GrandProjectseditedFrontView


1_Kina_HapaSoapOpera1_webHapa Soap Opera #1 (Misty Fujinaga, Sean Stoops, Laura Kina, Sam Kina, Ian Wan)
Oil on canvas
72” x 48”
2002
2_Kina_HapaSoapOpera2_2002_webHapa Soap Opera #2 (Mike Benson, Jason Kuwayama, Erin Woods, Cara Yi)
Oil on canvas
48” x 72”
2003
3_Kina_HapaSoapOpera3_webHapa Soap Opera #3 (Joe Kina, Isabel Cernada, Amanda Ross-Ho)
Oil on canvas
48” x 72”
2003
4_Kina_HapaSoapOpera4_webHapa Soap Opera #4 (Ann Marie Lickteig, Justin Frolich, Margaret Erdmann)
Oil on canvas
72” x 48”
2003
5_Kina_HapaSoapOpera5_webtoolowresHapa Soap Opera #5 (Joey Nakayama, Robert Karimi, Jef French)
Oil on canvas
72” x 48”
2003
6_Kina_HapaSoapOpera6_webtoolowresHapa Soap Opera #6 (Yayoi Winfrey & Evanity)
Oil on canvas
48” x 72”
2003
7_Kina_HapaSoapOpera7_webtoolowresjpgHapa Soap Opera #7 (Sarah Macaraeg, Eric Byler, Camilla Fojas)
Oil on canvas
72” x48”
2004
8_Kina_PaulYamada_tolowresPaul Yamada
Oil on canvas
48” x 36”
2004
9_Kina_Kai&KekoaErber_toolowresKai & Kekoa Erber
Oil and enamel on canvas
48” x 36”
2004
10_Kina_HapaSoapOpera4_moviepostervs_webtoolowreHapa Soap Opera #1 (movie poster version)
Digital inkjet print in rear-lit movie poster marquee with flashing lights
35” x 50” x 4”
2003
11_Kina_HapaSoapOpera1_moviepostervs_webtoolowresHapa Soap Opera #4 (movie poster version)
Digital inkjet print in rear-lit movie poster marquee with flashing lights
35” x 50” x 4”
2005
12_ColdwarlovestoryCold War Love Story: The True and Amazing Story of Hitomi Soga and Charles Jenkins (movie poster version)
Digital inkjet print in rear-lit movie poster marquee with flashing lights
35” x 50” x 4”
2004

Installation photographs

1_Kina_GeneSiskel_2010

2_Kina_GeneSiskel_2010

3_Kina_GeneSiskel_2010

Kina_HapaSoapOpera_DLF_installationShot_2003

Kina_HapaSoapOpera_Studioshot_2003