As you may have noticed, at Paiko we have a thing for supporting local artists. Luckily for us, these islands are booming with some of the most intriguing creatives around. This week, we wanted to take the time to introduce you to one of our personal favorites: the one and only, Gaye Chan.
Gaye Chan is the chair of the Department of Art at the University of Hawaii, and is a conceptual artist, recognized equally for her solo and collaborative activities that take place on the web, in publications, streets, as well as in galleries. Her recent work often ruminates on how cartography and photography simultaneously offer and occlude information. At Paiko we stock Gaye's elegantly indestructible upcycled baskets, a part of her 'Eating in Public' project.
What is ‘Eating in Public’ about?
Eating in Public implements systems of exchange outside of the State and capitalist regimes. None of the systems are owned, managed, monitored, surveilled. They are free, anarchist, autonomous, and they only keep going if those who use them keep them going. We have set them up in private and public space, and we generally do not ask for permission - because we don't believe that anyone has the authority to grant or deny us permission. We do it to make trouble and fun of the state and capitalism. And we want to demonstrate, not to them, but ourselves, that it is possible to take care of each other while we take care of ourselves.
How did you get the idea for the baskets?
In August 2012 I'd wanted to get a case of tomatoes to make sauce so I went to visit Annie Moss who owns an organic foods distribution company. While there I noticed heaps of baling straps. These single-use straps are found around nearly every box shipped across the globe. Binding box to box, paper to paper, and everything to pallets. The waste factor irked me to no end. I gave myself the task of figuring out how to reuse or upcycle them. After countless youtube videos and cut up fingers I managed to make a basket using a basic weaving technique common around the world.
I have since made nearly 200 baskets. For gifts and for barter. I have taught workshops and made downloadable instruction. I have made them as a part of creative performance works, and as an ongoing fundraising project to support EATING IN PUBLIC’s meager needs – paint, glue, staples, garden hoses, etc.
How do you like to use your baskets?
I use my baskets for everything – my general carryall, briefcase, shopping for groceries, harvesting and rising vegetables, transporting things to FREE STORE, literally everything. They are indestructible.
Can you tell us more about your latest project, GalleryHNL?
GalleryHNL is a creative partnership between Mark & Carolyn Blackburn and the Department of Art & Art History at the University of Hawai‘i at Manoa, which I chair. Entrepreneur Sanford Hasegawa also serves as an advisor. Through an innovative array of formats, GalleryHNL represents selected artists affiliated with my department with the full force of Blackburn and Hasegawa’s broad connections and experiences. A portion of the sales and commissions is returned to the department to support its many activities and programs.
We started GalleryHNL because we are frustrated with the lack of commercial viability for artists in Hawai‘i. We want to change the cultural landscape so that remaining in Hawai‘i, remaining an artist in Hawai‘i, is an option.
Having only been in existence since March 2015, GalleryHNL has organized two exhibitions and two presentations. We are planning three more in 2015 in Sante Fe, New York City and Honolulu. We have already successfully brokered a respectable number of sales and commissions in the private and public sectors. We are particularly proud of shepherding two acquisitions from Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA). The acquired works, by my colleagues Mary Babcock and Phil Jung, will be prominently displayed at LACMA’s Pacific gallery in October. GalleryHNL has also successfully garnered several scholarships for graduate students, allowing the department to be more competitive with other institutions.
After 200 you still like making them?
I am not sure if like is the right word. It is important for me to figure out the most logical, creative, sustainable... flow of material. I am obsessed with composting. I am obsessed with not letting any garden waste go into the garbage. Keeping these straps out of the waste stream is one more such obsession.
The one thing that I do like, as an artist, is figuring out how to utilize the limited color range and quantity of my stash of straps in formally interesting ways. The limitations pushes my envelop. That I like, in general.
Download the basket weaving instructional here: http://nomoola.com/baskets/
Find Gaye's baskets for sale at Paiko // $49 ea
Photos and Interview by Kenna Reed (35 mm Contax T3)