Elisa Chang

Media: Photography

Artist statement: A longstanding fascination with the mythic allure of Hawai‘i and an obsession with the imagined stories of strangers led me to photograph visitors in Waikīkī for the past five years. People and landscape come together to create my vision of contemporary Waikīkī—at once strange, contemplative, curious, wandering, and familiar. Moving to Hawai‘i at 13, my perspective is that of an insider and outsider. I am inspired by the straightforward and haunting nature of tintypes and the magic, light, and color of old Kodachrome slides. I love the regionalism and American archetypes of Grant Wood. I admire Winogrand's tireless curiosity of the American spectacle and his seemingly effortless technique. My candid images capture lone figures or couples caught up in the moment and environment, whether internal or physical. Most tourists are unfamiliar and awkward in the ocean, sand, and sun. There is beauty, honesty and vulnerability when defenses are shed and one finally succumbs to vacation.