Photography for Social Change

Nickel Tailings, Sudbury, Ontario, Canada © Edward BurtynskyNickel Tailings, Sudbury, Ontario, Canada © Edward Burtynsky

After the election of November 8, 2016, a healthy majority of Americans feel fear and despair over the impending erosion of our constitutional liberties, the potentially shattering setbacks for our hard-won civil rights, and the likely acceleration of environmental catastrophe. Many people are asking where are we heading? What have we done? And the most important question: What can we do to avert the potential consequences of social and environmental […]

Photography in Hawai‘i: Part Two

Alison Beste, from the series: Oil Tanker SunsetsAlison Beste, from the series: Oil Tanker Sunsets

In a previous post, I wrote about accomplished photographers from elsewhere who have created bodies of work in Hawai‘i. Now I have the privilege—and the much harder to task—to write about photographers who live and work here as part of the island’s vibrant photographic community. I must disclose that I am one of those photographers and many of the others are old friends and colleagues. What I have to say […]

In Focus: Self Discovery through Photography and Art

© David Ulrich© David Ulrich

Why is art necessary? Apart from the obvious social, political, and historical functions of art, how does it serve the maker? What benefits are available from the practice of making something? Now, please remember, all of you are artists in some way or in some fashion — or can be. Many of you carry cell phones or have laptops or writing implements and voices that can sing as wells bodies […]

Photography in Hawai‘i: Part One

Richard Misrach, On the Beach book coverRichard Misrach, On the Beach book cover

During the film era, Kodak announced that more film was shot in Hawai‘i than any other state. Recently, the Improve Photography website reveals that Hawai‘i has the second most active photographic community in the country. And the State film office lists over 225 motion picture films made in Hawai‘i during the twentieth and early twenty first centuries. What makes Hawai‘i such a compelling and sought-out location for photographers and filmmakers? The […]

Art and Self Knowledge

© Rachmad Sofyan© Rachmad Sofyan

Who Am I?Know Thyself.” Socrates words resound with an inner force as clear and direct as their first utterance over twenty-five centuries ago. These two simple words lie at the heart of the world’s great teachings and have had a profound impact on the thought and inquiry of western civilization. What do these powerful words really mean? How do we approach this vast and essential task? And for our purposes: […]

Paradise / Paradox

Mauna Kea #1 © David UlrichMauna Kea #1 © David Ulrich

Crossroads of Heaven and Earth on Mauna KeaAmong the many roles that artists can play is to bring perspective, create an enlarged viewpoint, and to offer their wisdom through carefully crafted objects invested with feeling and thought. By thought, I mean the intelligence that grows from one’s entire being, formulated in thinking that is capable of transcending literal and rational description. Several years ago, I worked on a small project […]

Be Simple but Go Deep: The Cut-Outs of Matisse

Matisse Cut-Outs, MoMA, 2014Matisse Cut-Outs, MoMA, 2014

I would be the first to admit that art for art’s sake is a limiting concept and that artists cannot ignore the complexities of the time and place in which they live. History has proven that art serves many functions in the world. It teaches us about the realities of other people, other times, other places. It can engender empathy and compassion. It can awaken us to social, natural, and […]

What (and Who) is Art For?

© David UlrichSugar Cane Burn, Maui, HI © David Ulrich, 2001

An American VisionThe arts reflect the soul of a people; they express the spirit of an age. If this is true, and historically all evidence affirms this, then what can we deduce from this graphic? The diagram shows the most prevalent search for artists on eBay by state. Since eBay is a commerce site, we can safely assume that at least some of these searches were made with the intention […]