College works display wide range of subjects

PUHI — Inspiration for their art came from the commonplace to mystical concepts.

Clarence Nishi, retired as an instructor from the Kaua‘i Community College culinary arts program, could not get away from the pastries he was known for during his tenure.

His self portrait depicts a fallen cake in a piece labelled “Disappointment.”

KCC art instructor Kyungsoo Lee said she tries to get her students to discover their personalities through works she classifies as “self portraits.”

In these assignments, students utilize commonplace items such as hands, shoes, and other everyday items to explore their personalities and character.

These works as well as works from her Special Studies 299 students opened Wednesday at a small reception for artists and their friends and family at the KCC Learning Resource Center.

The four faces of Mt. Fuji in Japan best summarizes the work of Sylvia Fujii, one of the Special Studies students.

“Inspired by a recent trip to Japan, I painted a series of Mt. Fuji paintings in its various seasons,” Fujii said in her biography card that guides viewers through her works.

“The hardest one was autumn,” Fujii said. “It involves the reflection and is part real, and part reflection.”

With the top portion of the real world trimmed due to the space limitations of her canvas, she conveys the missing portion through her rendering in the reflection of a quiet pool.

A longtime artist who displays annually at the American Culinary Federation’s breakfast in February, Fujii utilized pointillism for her rendering of Mt. Fuji in the spring. This is a departure from her normal style which is still in abundance in other paintings she has on display.

Fujii said she also utilized fauvism, expressionism and the use of the palette knife in rendering her seasonally-inspired pieces.

The palette knife was most effective in her offering of Mt. Fuji in winter as well as “Cardinals in Winter,” a piece well worth looking for among the offerings which will be on display during the KCC library’s normal operating hours.

Brian Nishimoto, another of the Special Studies students, did not need a trip to Japan for his inspiration.

“My challenge was to capture the unique Kaua‘i landscapes and seascapes,” he said. Through his theme of “Beautiful is Kaua‘i, beyond compare,” he offers a unique view of Alekoko, or the Menehune Fishpond and Spouting Horn takes on a view reminiscent of the days when film was used to create tourist postcards.

His offerings span the island from “Salt Pond” to the “Ha‘ena Shoreline” with a stop along the “North Shore Coastline.”

One of the more intricate presentations comes from the mind of Maxine Akita whom Lee said was the recipient of an award for one of her pieces during a recent art show at the Windward Community College on O‘ahu.

“I decided to create paintings around the theme ‘In the Eye of the Beholder’ so I could freely paint whatever appealed to my sense of beauty,” Akita said in her biography card.

That theme took her to the “Blue Planet,” for a unique astronomical perspective to a close-up view of an orchid in “Dance of the Oncidium.”

“My favorite is ‘My Little Chickadee,’” she said. That piece depicts a family friend holding a chick and through her attention to detail, evokes strong emotion.

Akita said, “For now, I like the look of realism and strive to paint what is inherently beautiful in things as they really are.”

After discovering that there are people who are critical of the style of painting she selected to follow, Akita said it took a field trip to O‘ahu for her to realize there is room for all forms of art and none was “better” or “worse” except in the eye of the beholder.

“I realized then that I had to be true to my sense of beauty and true to myself as an artist, accepting the fact that there would always be those who would like my work as well as those who wouldn’t,” she said.

Kerin Rosenberger’s inspiration came from all of the Hawaiian tropical paintings of exotic plants that are showcased and thought to be native.

“This semester, I painted only native Hawaiian plants in their wild habitats to express my love and concern for Hawai‘i’s endangered native flora,” she said, pointing out that on one panel, her first painting of the semester as well as the final project are shown together.

In that panel is a rendering of an alula inspired from one of the floral books as well as an extinct Hawaiian bird enjoying itself amidst the fog of the woodland.

Lee was overjoyed that at each reception, more and more people came to mingle and meet with the student artists.

“This must mean they (the students) are getting better,” she said.

The students’ work will be on display at the KCC library through May 7 during the library’s normal operating hours.

• Dennis Fujimoto, photographer and staff writer, can be reached at 245-3681 (ext. 253) or


Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


By participating in online discussions you acknowledge that you have agreed to the TERMS OF SERVICE. An insightful discussion of ideas and viewpoints is encouraged, but comments must be civil and in good taste, with no personal attacks. If your comments are inappropriate, you may be banned from posting. To report comments that you believe do not follow our guidelines, send us an email.