Words: Lalaine Ignao | Photos: Jen May Pastores
Meet Lala Openi, a 27-year-old multimedia artist, designer, and freelancer who moved to Hawaii from Oakland, California. The artist initially lived in Kailua and caught herself off guard when she found out that the location populated with dominantly Caucasian people. Originally from an area filled with a melting pot of cultures, Openi experienced culture shock. She found herself in a place where she did not have any family, friends or significant other.
Openi has always participated in creating art. The freelancer’s first form of art consisted of pretending to write in cursive on the newspaper at a young age and even did bubble lettering as a kid, writing everyone’s name at school. She enjoys dabbing in charcoal, fine art, graphite, shading and painting, which most of the art show portrayed. Most of Openi’s art reflects what she calls “colloquial metaphorism”, meaning informal and change. Her art depicts life as school – constantly learning but informally trying to learn, develop and grow. Her artist name was inspired from Openi constantly growing and constantly opening to new things.
During her first few months of living in a new place alone, she found herself doing a lot of reflecting. Openi did a series of journal entries and a few art pieces, all of which became a part of her art show, “From Shadows,” which debuted at Hound and Quail from February 17 to March 3. The art pieces provide a reference in the need to “feel your feelings, processing them, learning the lessons or seeing the root for the feelings. Once you learn the lesson, you can make the change,” quotes Openi.
All of the different artwork came from just wanting to release her feelings. Openi shares, “When you’re an artist, all you can do is create.” After going through a long process of reflecting on her life, Openi brings up the idea of doing the work when trying to understand why one’s life and actions have become the way it has. “It’s not just saying that you want to do something but actually doing something; figuring out what you’re feeling, what’s causing the feeling and addressing it.” She suggests that people should do research, whether it’s reflecting internally, reaching out for support or looking for information.
The name for the art show, “From Shadows” comes from two references. Shadows comes from the term ‘shadower’ which originates from a form of art called shadow work, which consists of looking deep into your soul, into your past and who you are as a person. Every piece from Openi’s art show came from her heart; each one came from a deep reflection and she has become emotionally attached to each piece.
“I painted hands because it’s tactile and very expressive; I wanted to grow emotionally and artistically so I challenged myself to draw hands since they’re so difficult to draw and paint.” Throughout the art show, Openi also featured a “wall of feels” where people could go into a simple process of reflecting, just like Lala did when creating her artwork.
You can check out her artwork on her website and social media platforms down below.