Bernice Akamine is a visual artist known for the abstract glass sculptures and vessels she creates with smooth flowing lines, often covered with a form-fitted skin of texture and color. She is a kumu or expert teacher in the methods of creating and using waiho’olu’u, or natural plant dyes, and creates kapa, cloth created by beating bark.
Akamine has exhibited work in six solo exhibitions and numerous group, juried and invitational exhibitions, including Paliuli at the Wailoa Art Center in Hilo, Treaty Issues at the Nathan Homestead Gallery in Auckland and the Changing Hands: Art Without Reservation 2 exhibition which traveled nationally. The Hawaii State Foundation on Culture and the Arts, the Peabody Essex Museum, the Portland Art Museum and the American Museum of Natural History are among the public institutions that collect her work. She earned an M.F.A. in the sculpture and glass program at the University of Hawaii and completed graduate work in natural resource management at Central Washington University.
With support from the Native Arts and Cultures Foundation, Akamine will complete Kalo, a traveling installation of 79 plants made of stone and leaves, which will be exhibited in honor of Queen Lili’uokalani of Hawaii in 2015 and 2016. Petals of each plant will feature handwritten renditions of each island’s Native boundaries or ahupua’a on one side, with copies of the hundreds of signed petitions against the U.S. annexation of Hawaii on the other. After exhibiting in Hawaii and beyond, the artist will give each plant to the 23 listed Homestead Associations and 10 Native Hawaiian centers in community colleges and universities across the state.
“Each sculpture sits in a mound of volcanic cinders representing the birth of the land. It is our kuleana or responsibility and blessing, to care for the land and our elder sibling the kalo plant, which in turn care for us. Our kalo sibling connects us genealogically directly to the gods: Papa, Earth Mother and Wakea, Sky Father,” said Akamine. “This installation is a non-confrontational way to remind Hawaiians to be proud of their stand for Indigenous sovereignty and to stand up and be counted once again, as there is still much to be done and still much that can be lost.”