I have always had a great appreciation for vintage cameras. The way they look, the thought that went into design. The way they feel when you hold them, a bit heavy, you are holding a serious piece of equipment. I like the work that goes into taking a picture with an old film camera. Manually focusing, winding the film, adjusting all the settings. I love all of it.
This new piece was inspired by the camera that my mom used the whole time I was growing up. So many childhood memories and experiences were captured with this old Nikon EL2. I am so grateful that my mom took the time and effort to take so many pictures at a time when photography wasn’t so ubiquitous. It took a lot of effort, and money to take pictures have them developed and printed etc.
A couple years ago my mom gave me that camera and it now sits on my desk in the studio and I see it everyday. I decided it would make a great subject for a drawing.
As I do with all of these pieces, the lens of the camera is filled in with a scene. For this piece I chose to recreate an iconic image of Duke Kahanamoku surfing in Hawaii. Surfing is something that has shaped and guided me in profound ways for most of my life. Lately I have had an insatiable desire to learn more about the history of surfing. While there is a wealth of knowledge in sources like Matt Warshaw’s The History of Surfing, I came across the work of Isaiah Helekunihi Walker through listening to the Waterpeople podcast. In his Waves of Resistance, Walker expertly outlines the ways in which Native Hawaiians used surfing as a form of resistance to colonialism and exploitation.
While Duke Kahanamoku certainly wasn’t the first or the only Hawaiian to spread surfing around the world, he was an integral part of spreading aloha and the surfing life. Words cannot express how grateful I am for the gift that Hawaiians, ancient and modern have given the world in the form of surfing.
In the end, this piece is an expression of gratitude to those that have made me who I am.