Lehuauakea is a māhū Native Hawaiian kapa maker and interdisciplinary artist from Pāpaʻikou on Moku O Keawe, the Big Island of Hawaiʻi. Lehua’s Kānaka Maoli family descends from several lineages connected to Maui, Kauaʻi, Kohala, and Hāmākua where their family resides to this day. Through a range of traditional Kanaka Maoli craft-based media, their art serves as a means of exploring social and biological ecologies, cultural and environmental reclamation, and Indigenous identity. With a particular focus on the labor-intensive making of ʻohe kāpala (carved bamboo printing tools), kapa (bark cloth), and natural pigments, Lehua is able to breathe new life into patterns and traditions practiced for generations. Through these acts of resilience that help forge deeper relationships with ʻāina, this mode of Indigenous storytelling is carried well into the future.
They have participated in numerous solo and group exhibitions in and around the Pacific Ocean, including the recent Heard Museum exhibition He‘e Nalu: The Art and Legacy of Hawaiian Surfing, and they opened their first curatorial research project, DISplace, at the Five Oaks Museum in Portland, Oregon in 2020. The artist is currently based between the continent and Pāpaʻikou after earning their Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in Painting with a minor in Art + Ecology at Pacific Northwest College of Art.