December of 2016 was the 75th anniversary of the bombing of Pearl Harbor, and here in Honolulu the commemoration activities were at fever pitch. Greater attention than ever before was being paid to the travesty of WWII Japanese interment camps, especially given that the recently rediscovered Honouliuli Internment Camp had been named a national monument the year before and was still undergoing excavation and restoration. This got me thinking about the long history of the Japanese people in Hawai‘i and how Japanese culture has contributed so much to what we in Honolulu consider ”local“ culture, as well as how Hawai‘i in turn has influenced the Japanese population both here and abroad both culturally and genetically—true fusion on all levels. And as these things go, it manifested in my mind as art.
This design is a modification of the Goshichi-no-kiri, which was the mon (family crest) of the Toyotomi clan and is now the symbol of the Japanese government. The mon is comprised of three paulownia leaves with three stalks of paulownia blossoms rising behind them. In this interpretation, I replaced the paulownia leaves with monstera leaves, as it's a broad-leafed endemic species here that is common both in gardens and as a design motif. Instead of using the paulownia blossems, I replaced them with three stalks of heliconia flowers, another beautiful and widespread plant in the islands.