Koa Gallery

Koa Gallery

Phase 1: StarSTUCK, Phase 2: SignSTACK, Phase 3: Improper paper

Natalia Da Silva

  • May 8, 2020 – February 1, 2021

Phase 1: StarSTUCK is the first in a series of new works by local artist Natalia Da Silva installed at SIGNPOST, an upright support structure for temporary display in the Koa Building courtyard at Kapiʻolani Community College. Made during the Hawaiʻi state-mandated “stay-at-home” order, StarSTUCK embodies the circumstances of its production accordingly.

About her work Natalia writes,

“Working during quarantine with limited materials, I was influenced by the idea of physically tracking time in space. StarSTUCK is a two-sided painting, the front strikingly bright with concentric lines applied thickly in “Caution Yellow” acrylic paint, the back, raw, with notations in pen and pencil. Between the two sides, partially finished edges are exposed.”

The courtyard area in which StarSTUCK exists reminds me of a “Turrell Skyspace,” a “specifically proportioned chamber with an aperture in the ceiling open to the sky.” SIGNPOST acts as a pole to mark the center of this quasi-skyspace and is surrounded by buildings. Post site-visit, all I remember is looking up a lot. Now entering the space, viewers are confronted with a star as a sign, stuck in place, slightly lower than normal.”

A five-pointed star is a common ideogram across cultures, societies, and nations. In the U.S., the shape is often associated with fame, it conjures individual and mass desires to “become a star” or “attain stardom.” Within Oceania, celestial objects and their lines, Hōkūpaʻa the North Star for example, are used to orient and determine direction. Regardless of connotation, a star is referential and may be interpreted as a shared symbol of guidance, divine or otherwise. Amidst the recent global pandemic, Phase 1: StarSTUCK offers its viewers an opportunity to gravitate toward a certain place; to reflect on something distorted yet hopeful; to wish upon a (stuck) star—up close or at a distance.

Phase 2: SignSTACK (2020) is the second installment in a three-part series by Natalia Da Silva. Made between mid-April and early August of 2020, SignSTACK calls attention to private troubles and public issues through a collection of hand-painted signs.

In an attempt to connect with friends amidst a global pandemic, economic collapse, and social unrest Natalia initiated an informal “sign exchange.” In exchange for a painting, her friends provided words and phrases they felt were important to read, speak, visualize, and embody now. About this process, the artist writes:

“Sourcing phrases from others creates an opportunity for collaboration and thoughtful conversation during a moment when in-person interaction is limited. SignSTACK is a result of my attempt to continue to stay in touch with individuals in different communities through words and paint.”

The messages emblazoned in acrylic across each of the sixteen signs have been derived from Black Lives Matter demonstrations, the artist’s personal collection of protest signs, and friends who participated in the previously mentioned sign exchange including Jennifer Bryan, Molly Conn, Connor Damaschi, Malia Gonzalez, Jordan Ruiz, Alec Singer, Chase Zalewski. 

A relational gesture, SignSTACK is a reminder to give more attention to signs—signs on the street, signs from the universe, signs telling you what to do, consume, believe.

Phase 3: Improper paper (2020-2021) is the third and final work by Natalia Da Silva developed for SIGNPOST. Improper paper is made in collaboration with Nanea Lum, who Natalia met at Aupuni Space during the making of Tropic Zine Issue 3. 

About their shared process and working together, the artists writes:

“We are connected by our unconventional approaches to painting and sign making. Throughout this exchange, we focused on our time together and made an effort to ensure that the final product was secondary to the act of sharing with each other. Our intentions were to immerse ourselves in the mysticism of our separate but overlapping practices and to collaborate without an agenda. By trading places, we were able to access and experience our work anew.”

Bolted to a signpost are two stacks of heavyweight handmade paper, one in earth tones and the other with periwinkle lettering—CHANGE OR GO AWAY. As warm winter rains pour down across Oʻahu, Natalia and Nanea’s Improper paper takes on new forms…pulp piles up in an empty courtyard.

About the artist

Natalia Da Silva (b. 1996) currently lives and works in Honolulu, HI. She holds a BFA – Focus in Painting, Minor in Sustainability from Otis College of Art and Design in Los Angeles, CA. The complex landscape and signage particular to Hawaiʻi and California are crucial to her depictions of place. Recently she has been experimenting with signifiers to produce “paintings and objects as signs.” Through the systematic manipulation of latex paint in its dried form—drag, drop, copy, paste, duplicate, add, subtract, push, pull, resize, delete—Natalia embraces the unlimited potential of house paint and extends the boundaries of ordinary painting techniques.

About the venue

SIGNPOST is an upright support structure for temporary display comprised of a 10-foot tall, 2-inch square, metal post firmly planted in the ground. Located at Kapiʻolani Community College, within the central courtyard of the Koa Building, adjacent to Koa Gallery, the venue offers students, faculty, and staff, as well as community members at large, an opportunity to activate the surrounding area and to engage passersby. 

Interested parties may submit project proposals to koaglry@hawaii.edu. Please include a short description (< 250 words) and one accompanying reference image (< 5 MB). SIGNPOST is an outlet for artistic concerns, as such, projects that address Hawaiʻi’s complex historical, sociopolitical, and/or cultural contexts are especially encouraged. Submissions are reviewed and responded to on a continuing basis.

ʻO Koa Gallery, ua hoʻokahua ʻia i ka makahiki ʻumi kūmāiwa kanawalukūmāhiku, pūnana i‘a ma nā palena ʻole o ke Kulanui Kaiāulu ʻo Kapiʻolani, i ke alo o Laeʻahi, ma ka mokupuni o Oʻahu, Hawaiʻi. He wahi i‘a no ka huliāmahi, ke alu like, ka hoʻoulu ma o ka hoʻokau hou ʻia ʻana o ka lā i ka lolo. Kākoʻo maoli ʻo Ka Hale Hōʻikeʻike ʻo Koa i nā kaiāulu hana noʻeau o Hawaiʻi, ka Moana Pākīpika, a me nā māhele ʻĀina o ʻĀsia-Pākīpika. Alakaʻi ʻia nā hōʻike e ke Ala Nuʻukia o Kapiʻolani Kula Nui Kaiāulu ʻo i‘a hoʻi, e hoʻolako a e hoʻomākaukau i nā haumāna maoli, kūloko, kaumokuʻāina, kauʻāina no ko lākou mua he lako, a pēlā pū me nā ʻōlelo kākoʻo o Hawaiʻi Papa O Ke Ao.

Koa Gallery, established in 1987, is a venue nested within Kapi‘olani Community College, in the presence of Lē‘ahi, on the island of O‘ahu, Hawai‘i. A place for collaboration, engagement, and risk-taking through exhibition-making and public programming, Koa Gallery is especially dedicated to art communities of Hawai‘i, Oceania, and the Asia-Pacific region. The gallery’s production is guided by Kapi‘olani Community College’s mission to “prepare indigenous, local, national, and international students for their productive futures,” as well as by the recommendations of Hawai‘i Papa O Ke Ao.

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