By Hadley Nunes
Artist Cory Taum of Lana Lane Studios has been busy this year making connections across the Pacific. This past summer Taum traveled to New Zealand on a trip funded by The University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa. The Science Department now awards grants to projects that include cultural exchanges between students in the Department of Hawaiian Studies and other Pacific Island cultures.
This is Taum’s last semester in the Hawaiian Studies Department. “All the Polynesian and Pacific peoples are related,” he says, “so these exchanges are about building the connections and sharing the past from each perspective—both their similarities and differences.” Taum visited nine different cities throughout the North Island with professor Maile Andrade from UH and two other students. The group visited a number of art universities established for the practice of contemporary native art including the Toimairangi Contemporary Maori Visual Arts School founded by artist and educator Sandy Adsett.
The opportunities for native artists in New Zealand to make a living from their work are abundant, Taum explained. “We have Kakaʻako as a place for contemporary artists, Lana Lane Studios provides avenues for public work, commissions and other opportunities for sales. So, the demand has been growing over the past five years. We have a much smaller community of contemporary Hawaiian artists here compared to the scale of Maori artists, so it can appear that it’s a lack of resources that holds us back, but we can always say that. In the end we have to just do the work and make it happen.”
Recently In Honolulu, Taum’s paintings were in a group show called Makakolu that opened at Marks Garage. Taum’s pieces were inspired by his New Zealand trip and an ongoing dialogue with artists Carl F.K. Pao and Charlton Kūpaʻa Hee that began when Hee and Taum studied with Pao at Kamehameha Schools Kapālama High School. Loosely translated as “Three Eyes,” this show was the third installment in a series of exhibitions arranged by Pao and inspired by the root word “maka.”
Taum is back in New Zealand where he is now assisting Keone Nunes at the Indigenous Ink Aotearoa—a pacific and global indigenous tattoo festival in Auckland. Nunes is one of the most respected traditional Hawaiian tatau artists on Oahu. “Although my own culturally inspired artwork is very contemporary, I hope to remain balanced by spending much of my time assisting in this very traditional and ancient art form that has always inspired and fascinated me.”
We celebrate and look forward to many more great things from Taum as he continues to contribute to the voice of Hawaiian Contemporary Art and our Lana Lane community.