Christopher Lum (he/him) is an artist from Oʻahu. This Japanese-Chinese local farmed on Oʻahu and Hawaiʻi islands before moving to the Pacific Northwest. He earned a B.A. in fine art from University of Hawaiʻi at Manoa.
“My work is about Laka, the wife of Lono. I wanted to convey the influence of aloha ʻāina, and the spread of canoe plants through the Pacific. On one hand, it is a tribute to the work of Herb Kane, on the other, I wanted to convey some of the brilliance that Hawaiians had for traveling with several plant allies/canoe plants. The gesture is the same as the Buddha asking the Earth to bear witness; in the same way it is a gesture to ask us to listen to nature and be inspired by it.”
We selected this illustration because of the strong symbolism present in the work. Lum chose to experiment with digital illustration, a new media for himself, yet also remain true to traditional stories and important plants in Native Hawaiian culture. Each of the plants in the image were staples brought over by the first Polynesians that settled in the Hawaiian Islands thousands of years ago. Surrounding Laka, one of the primary deities in traditional mythology, the image speaks to the ways that our customs have survived over countless generations to still be honored in the work of contemporary artists today.