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The art of Hawaiian featherwork was once reserved for alii. Ho’ohulu Hawai’i continues this tradition today to perpetuate the culture of our kupuna. HI Now host Kanoe Gibson caught up with artist Kawika Lum-Nelmida to learn more.
Lum-Nelmida, born 1976, is a hulu (feather) artist from Pūpūkea, Oʻahu. He started learning about hulu from Paulette Kahalepuna in 1997 at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa. While at the Univeristy of Hawaiʻi, he studied Natural Environment and Fiber Arts within the Hawaiian Studies program and graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in 2001. Lum-Nelmida’s fiber arts teacher at the university was 2013 MAMo Awardee Maile Andrade.
Lum-Nelmida has been an active artist participant in MAMo: Maoli Arts Movement since 2012, and in 2013, was awarded a Master’s Apprenticeship through the Hawaiʻi State Foundation in the Culture and the Arts with his hulu master Kahalepuna (2014 MAMo Awardee, and 2014 ʻŌʻō Awards Recepient). Under this apprenticeship, Lum-Nelmida studied Hawaiian feather work in the forms of lei (adornment), kahili (feather standard), ahuʻula (cape), and mahiʻole (helmets). He also studied works from traditional materials along with how to use, cultivate, and preserve these materials. While respecting and using the traditional materials, he also uses modern materials with traditional practices to create contemporary art pieces.
Lum-Nelmida recently ventured into clothing design and is now an artist in the annual MAMo Wearable Art Show. You can see more of his work on Instagram @kawikal.