INVASIVES, Deanna Gabiga & Michelle Schwengel-Regala, 2016, Fiber and Colored Wire
From the perspective of our common interests, exploring the natural environment and cultural history of Hawai’i, INVASIVES intertwines the tales of multiple species, people, and the results of their interactions.
Michelle’s textiles spin the tale of the kāhuli (native Hawaiian tree snails) and the rosy wolf snail playing out in native ʻōhiʻa lehua trees across the state. The native snails coevolved with the ʻōhiʻa lehua tree but populations of all these native species are currently impacted by multiple pressures including habitat destruction, predation, and disease. The rosy wolf snail was brought to Hawai’i as a biological control agent in an attempt to eradicate the African land snail, but an unintended consequence was its impact on the kāhuli, driving many non-target species to extinction.
Deanna’s wire crocheted Philodendron vines show the intrusive effects of intimate living conditions between nature and people in Hawai’i. The non-native, naturalized, but aggressive Philodendron shows the movement of people to Hawai’i while Michelle’s knitted textiles show how that encroachment has changed much of the natural ecosystem. The ecological history of Hawai’i is a story of continual invasion. How much longer will the kāhuli endure?
Michelle Schwengel-Regala began her art career as a scientific illustrator at natural history museums around the world. During her decade living on O’ahu, her media shifted from paint and pixels to yarn, and she now sculpts life forms and large-scale museum installations in fiber. She recently returned from an Artist-at-Sea residency, working with scientists and knitting data textiles aboard an oceanographic research vessel from Honolulu to Pape’ete, Tahiti. That journey gave her new perspectives about Hawai’i and deepened her connection to Polynesia.
Deanna Gabiga is an internationally exhibited, fiber and metalsmith artist creating sculptures and installation work utilizing textile techniques. Creating pieces that combine the hard masculine properties of metal with the soft, feminine fibers, both mediums are transformed into stronger, cohesive sculptures. Previously living in Japan for 10 years, Deanna is now a Honolulu-based artist whose explorations here have greatly changed her perception of who and what Hawai’i really was and has become.
Invasive. Endemic. Naturalized. All are words describing florae and its relationship to its environment, some descriptions I’ve begun to see in myself. Being yet another non-native, introduced entity here in Hawai’i, I am warmly welcomed by so very many, yet I am one of too many. O’ahu is overcrowded, it is unsustainable.
Combining wire and fiber using textile techniques, it is as flexible as my ever transforming life. Blending the soft with the hard, the feminine with the masculine, allows me to play with these extremes and create in-betweens. My botanical sculpture work is a comfortable medium in which to start difficult dialogues.
My reason for coming to this beautiful paradise is due to an organization that could be classified as an invasive, noxious species, yet it bears the sweet fruit of jobs and security.
How will my life impact Hawai’i and those who live here? Will I be that noxious weed?
Or can I become naturalized like the philodendron? A non-native, but only mildly invasive?