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Drawing on nature, land, and humans

An interview with Chelsea Iwami, whose art blends Hawaiian and Asian influences. She's a regular at Art & Flea.

Interview Arts
Hannah Latimer

How would you describe your art and yourself as an artist?

My art is a combination of Hawaiian and asian themes. A lot of my subject matter is rooted in Hawaiian culture and my experiences of living in Hawaii. The graphic imagery of my art more clearly represents Asian influences. 

How does the Hawaiian culture or Hawaii in general play a role in your artwork?

I take a lot of the inspiration for my subjects and themes from Hawaiian culture. Most of the animals that I paint or draw live in Hawaii and have a significant relationship to the land. I am interested in the way that nature, land, and humans all have an interdependence on each other. 

What do you strive to create through your art?

Through my art I hope to create a greater awareness to the beauty and spirit of nature. I think that all living things have a power or spirit that can be seen by just taking the time to look and observe. Through my paintings and drawings I hope to give people the opportunity the time to look, observe, feel, and reflect in an environment that may not be able to provide it.

What are the main influences of your art?

My art is influenced by my everyday life and experiences of living in Hawaii. I am also interested in the spirit and energy of living things. I’m getting my Masters, working three jobs, and do my art. I am very busy and I constantly reflect on how I am detached from nature and the simple things in life. By making art I reconnect myself with the simple joys of life and the human bond with nature. 

How has your artwork evolved over time?

My style and art has been pretty much self-taught. Therefore my artwork and style are constantly evolving. My artwork now is much more deeper in meaning and connections. I am also much more interested in the human relationship with nature. 

What are your favorite things to draw and why?

I like to draw animals, especially animals that are pertinent to Hawaii and Hawaiian culture.. I specifically enjoy to paint birds and fishes because they are the masters of worlds that are unknown to humans. I also draw human ladies. The ladies that I draw are to represent the paradox of innocence and intimacy. 

What sets your artwork apart from others?

I think that my artwork is a unique combination of stylists realism and graphic imagery. The realism draws people into to something familiar then the graphic and sometimes abstract imagery creates a reflection on deeper meanings and connections. 

What is one thing that people wouldn?t know about your artwork just from looking at it?

A lot of my artwork comes from my personal experiences. My jobs require that I communicate with people of all ages. These experiences in combination with my own social experiences and observations help spark the inspiration for my pieces.