Offensive artwork? It's in the eye of the beholder

By Brenton Awa
Published On: Sep 18 2013 11:00:00 PM HST

The Honolulu Museum of Art showcasing "Artists of Hawaii 2013."

HONOLULU -

The Honolulu Museum of Art opened one of its premier exhibits called "Artists of Hawaii 2013." Over 1,000 guests attended Wednesday night to see the work created by 11 artists chosen from 341 entries.

When looking at a piece of art, experts say the message truly is in the eye of the beholder.

"There isn't a meaning or message that you're supposed to get and I think that's a problem for a lot of people. They come to it and they're intimidated, they don't know what they're looking at," said James Jensen of the Honolulu Museum of Art.

One work of art titled "Aloha means Hello and Goodbye" depicts a shaka sign that turns into to a middle finger gesture also known as "flipping the bird."

"I didn't think anything at all, it was neither offensive or inoffensive," said John Albers, a Honolulu resident.

Another piece of art portrays dolls without their heads and limbs. The artist named one of her pieces "Hung Out to Die." It symbolizes shortcomings and disasters. While it's open to interpretation, the artist hopes it wont be open to censorship.

"Censorship, it goes against free speech first of all, and in particular, times change, attitudes change," said Jenson.

But some artists have a different point of view. While most oppose censorship, some say these creators need to realize where their work will be placed and who'll see it.

"If you know ahead of time that you're work is going to a public space, and it is going to a public forum and it's going to be criticized by the public, as an artist its your responsibility to know the history of the space that you're in," said Clarence Chun, an artist.

It seems as long its in the Honolulu Museum of Art, anything chosen to be there is safe.

"We support their art, I'm sure I'll get letters of complaints, but I would never take their art down," said Stephan Jost of the Honolulu Museum of Art.

Anyone interested in viewing the complete gallery can stop by the Honolulu Museum of Art from now through November 24th.

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