Aloha ‘Oe (Farewell To Thee)
The latest series, Aloha ‘Oe is based on my experience of going out to sea on an outrigger canoe to spread the ashes of a very close friend, Walter Kahiwa Jr. The series is also a culmination of a season in my life in which my family have lost and said goodbye to other members that include Uncle Barry, Aunty Nita and several other close loved ones.
While paddling out to sea at Miloli‘i, a rush of deep appreciation for life and love overwhelmed me. As we surged forward towards the horizon, I gazed at the deep blue hues of the Pacific Ocean. The depths of that blue is forever engrained in my mind.
Once out to sea at the appropriate spot we (niece Sherrie, nephew Steven and grandnephew Teva) scattered Walter Boy’s ashes. I recalled an incredible swirl of silver gray against the deep blues of the water and again thought of the appreciation for friendship, of loving others and receiving love as it was intended to be.
Later several people on the canoe told me that an aku bird flew out of the water at that moment. I love how God gives us “gifts” like this.
A common tradition in Hawai‘i is to offer leis and flowers that are scattered at sea. I remember that within the calmness of the ocean, the beautiful array of flowers and leis seemed to cling to the canoe as if “Boy’s” spirit did not want to leave us. When we said our goodbyes and thank yous to Boy, the flowers broke away from the side of the canoe. As we paddled back to Miloli‘i Harbor, Walter Boy’s niece Laila chanted a Hawaiian melody of thanksgiving.
For several days I searched for a scripture that reflected my experiences and I finally thought Ephesians 3:14-20 was appropriate.
Appreciation of the Mystery
“For this reason I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, from whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man, that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height—to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen.”
While painting from memory each layer day by day, I recalled that canoe ride, appreciation for life, and meditated on the words of the scripture. The color palette was inspired by these vivid memories of the water, the landscape, the leis, flowers and the shimmering silvery reflections on the surface of the sea.
The series is named Aloha ‘Oe which happens to be the title of a very famous song written by the last Hawaiian monarch, Queen Liliʻuokalani. The chorus of this song echoes the sentiments that played a part in the creation of the works.
Aloha ‘oe, aloha ‘oe.
E ke onaona noho i ka lipo.
One fond embrace,
A ho‘i a‘e au.
Until we meet again.