June 01, 2008
August 24, 2008
As the 2008 recipient of the Honolulu Academy of Arts’ biennial Catharine E.B. Cox award, Honolulu-based sculptor, landscape designer, and naturalist Leland Miyano has created three site-specific installations at the museum. The protégé of internationally known Brazilian landscape designer Roberto Burle Marx, Miyano creates sculptures and installations that reflect cycles of regeneration in nature and environmental issues. Using native materials, Miyano addresses the larger themes of man in nature and the unsustainability of beauty. For this exhibition, he worked primarily with Hawaiian basalts and wood, accented with other natural materials such as a leaf-mimicking insect. Deeply reverent of his materials, Miyano celebrates their inherent qualities with minimal manipulation. Having worked in stone for more than 30 years, he allows each piece to unveil its unique character by letting “stone be stone.” The John Dominis and Patches Damon Holt Gallery features an installation of basalt rocks set amidst paintings of old Hawai‘i. The 3,000-pound alabaster sculpture "Iliahi," will be in the Mediterranean Court, while a collection of smaller sculptures, Miyano’s ode to the wunderkammer, is in Gallery 10. These works, from Miyano’s own cabinet of curiosities, include sarcophagi and book forms articulated in wood.
For decades, Miyano has cultivated a one-acre plant-and-rock garden, lush with a fine balance of plants—from towering trees from Madagascar to smaller cycads and endemic Hawaiian plants—at his Kahalu‘u home. Plants are selected and placed to be mutually beneficial in this self-sustaining environment. Meandering the paths through the dense, yet carefully edited garden aids our understanding of the way he creates his sculptures.
“To have developed his way of creating a garden is something that one only achieves when one lives with, observes and studies how plants grow, reproduce and die,” the late Burle Marx once said of Miyano. In his exhibition at the Honolulu Academy of Arts, the artist sculpturally communicates his messages, based on his cultivated understanding of natural materials. His works aim to remind us of our symbiotic relationship with the environment.