"Transparency in Translation": the origins of a collaborative virtual exhibition

Header image: Jackie Mild Lau, Winter Platter, fused and slumped glass. Overall: 15″ x 15″ x 1″

Transparency in Translation originated in the desire to explore the idea of collaboration and community-building across Hawaiʻi-based arts organizations. This virtual exhibition is the culmination of a unique partnership between the well-established Hawaiʻi Watercolor Society and the newly formed Glass Fusion Collective. 

The Hawaiʻi Watercolor Society has longstanding roots in the Islands, established in 1962 by Hon Chew Hee, a noted Hawaiʻi artist with a passion for painting and printmaking. A more recent addition to the Hawaiʻi arts landscape, the Glass Fusion Collective was founded in 2019 by a collective of local artists who recognized the need for a creative community space where glass enthusiasts and artists can thrive. Even though their lineages and mediums of choice may differ, both organizations share a common goal: a mutual mission to nurture Hawaiʻi-based artists and stimulate community engagement through arts education and creation. 

Shall we dance?

Frances Wong, Shall We Dance?, 2020. Watercolor on paper. Overall: 11” x 14”

This new, but inevitable, partnership was ignited in 2019 through the vision of a combined exhibition. The intent of this exhibition was to highlight commonalities, such as the use of color and light, in their seemingly disparate mediums. Transparency in Translation was accepted as the HoMA School Exhibition Programʻs first exhibition to feature a collaboration between two established but separate Hawaiʻi arts organizations. This exhibition was originally conceived to be an in-person show that would play with light in a physical space. However, the onset of COVID-19 and its ramifications compelled the artists to re-envision the exhibition in a virtual format.

Without the use of physical space, qualities of transparency became the lens through which the connection of watercolor and glass would be seen. Each artwork, featured in this virtual exhibition, stands alone in merit while simultaneously forming unexpected connections between each other. The exhibition text explains:

The artwork is organized around six qualities that illuminate important characteristics of transparency: crystalline, diaphanous, limpid, fluid, luminous, and translucent. The same language may also be used to describe watercolor and glass works. Like light and liquid forms, such categorizations are fluid; many of the works can easily transition from one attribute to another. The overlap and flow of the associated words are symbolic of the works that they describe.” 

Just as each artwork in Transparency in Translation stands alone as an individual work while also part of a larger affiliation, so do the intentions of the Hawaiʻi Watercolor Society and the Glass Fusion Collective. Each organization has its purpose within the Hawaiʻiʻs arts community; and in our tightly knit community, sometimes they overlap. But, as each organization fosters its own identity, they simultaneously foster a shared mission to support the artists of Hawaiʻi and build community through engagement in art. 

– Marlene Siu, HoMA Art School Exhibitions Manager


Click here to view Transparency in Translation.