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Freehand, ephemeral cut-paper banner hung under the Dubin Studio portal, Ian Kuali’i.

Story written by SAR editorial staff.


Paper. Spray paint. Yucca fibers. Hip-hop.

Pick your medium, and there is a decent chance that Ian Kuali’i has at least dabbled in it.

The 2019 Ronald and Susan Dubin Native artist fellow, Kuali’i in his life and career has traveled from coast to coast, learning a diverse array of art forms. His childhood, split between southern California and Hawaii, exposed him to traditional Hawaiian art forms and street art, such as the Huntington Beach graffiti wall. Time in the New York City metropolitan area showed him how to experiment with cut paper.

In a recent interview with Smithsonian magazine, the Apache and Native Hawaiian artist said his time in Santa Fe, first with the Institute of American Indian Arts and then with SAR, gave him the time and space to figure out what worked for him artistically through regular contact with other Indigenous artists.

Freehand cut paper and ink sketches created for a series of contemporary ‘I’e Kūkū/Kapa Beaters, Ian Kual’i.

“Being here and immediately coming in contact with individuals whose work I knew already, knowing someone like Jason Garcia, who still goes out and gathers clay, traditional minerals for pigments, does traditional firing methods, but will do a take on a comic book using his own imagery,” he said. “Being able to slip into those environments and conversations and having access to those individuals who are still very much embedded with their culture, which is local, and their being supportive and vice versa—it’s a beautiful relationship between individuals here creatively.”

SAR Artists Live: Go Behind the Scenes with Native Artist Ian Kuali’i
Ever wonder how artists create their work?
Follow SAR on Instagram to hear from mixed-media artist Ian Kuali’i live on June 16.