During a recent stay at the Four Seasons Resort at Wailea in Maui, Hawaii, we wandered through the artists showcase in the hotel's lower lobby area. The open-air gallery rotates throughout the week, featuring six different local artists each day. It's a great way for tourists to engage directly with the local arts community, as the artists present their work directly. Being selected to participate is considered a local honor, and the group is edited each year to keep things fresh. We were impressed with both the quality of the work (hotel lobbies don't tend to deliver awesome art) but also with the breadth—native basket weaving, photography, sculpture, glass making, and painting. It was great to be able to speak with the artists directly about their work and process.
Of the artists we met, two stood out for their creativity and innovation. They happen to be mother (Nancy Mosely) and daughter (Lisa Widell) who share the Shepards Beads studio in the middle of a Christmas tree farm on Maui, where they create work independently and collaboratively. Nancy works with fimo, which she extrudes to different shapes using a pasta machine. She works the various strands together to make tubes of kaleidoscopic patterns, which are then cut. The sliced fimo is put around beads and glazed, which Lisa then takes and makes into all types of jewelry.
Nancy also uses the cut fimo to make colorful "fabrics" which she then transforms into miniature aloha shirts and muu'muus, many of which feature amazingly intricate fimo flower leis with very, very small petals, each made by hand. The "Aloha" shirt sculptures are then framed in Koa shadow boxes
In addition to clay, Lisa also does Italian lampwork glass beadmaking, finishing her delicate products in precious stones, gold, and swarovski crystals. The jewelry is unique, handmade and bears the distinct mark of the Maui spirit. Had we seen their work in a gallery we probably wouldn't have given it a second look, but having the opportunity to speak with them about their art and process made us fans, and we left with several pieces. Their work is also available through the Shepards Beads online shop.
We also loved the photography of Cameron Nelson, a technical photographer who captures fleeting moments of ecological beauty. With a spirit of adventure, Nelson travels to global locales in search of original environments. In his extensive career photographing the islands, Nelson has recorded everything from the rugged Napali Coast and Hana's bamboo forests to competitive surfers in the Banzai Pipeline. Nelson's camera is equipped with waterproof housing for use when lying in wait for the perfect spray of sea foam.
The artist showcase at the Four Seasons Maui runs year round, with new artists added each year. The collection celebrates local craftsmanship and the aesthetic spirit of a prized Hawaiian island.