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January 2015

Hawaii Craftsmen Newsletter

Interview: May Izumi

interview by M.K. Carroll, all photos courtesy May Izumi

“...that's the best part of making art - sparking people's curiosity, encouraging them to share their own stories, sharing experiences.”

May Izumi is a longtime Hawai’i Craftsmen member (and former board member as well as former newsletter editor) who has shown locally and internationally for decades. Known for her sculptural mixed media work with deep narratives drawn from the stories we tell ourselves and each other, May is also an artist who deals with the kinds of time and space constraints many of us in Hawai’i have to contend with. I sat down with May to ask her about why she chooses to use paper clay, and what it’s like working as an artist in Hawai’i.

"Cat Infanta"MKC: How has your background in ceramics influenced your work?

MI: Ceramics is about learning to deal with heartbreak. [laughter]

MKC: It’s such a responsive medium. When you think about the way it works - right down to the molecular level -

MI: ...and no matter how good you are, how experienced, so many things can go wrong. You have to be prepared to deal with that.

MKC: You’ve been working mostly with paper clay for a while now, right?

MI: It really suits the way I work now. Mixed media is perfect for me because I need something that I can put down and pick up again without too much trouble. My "studio" is a table and I don’t have any facilities that can accommodate a kiln or other specialized equipment. Plus I have a day job, which pays my bills, but also means that I only have few hours a day to try to make anything. The materials that I use right now require only basic tools and techniques - plus a lot of patience. I want to make art but I have to work with the conditions that exist now, and I'm okay with that.

MKC: So with the paper clay, you don’t have some of the limitations of clay?

MI: Yeah, I can work on a piece over a longer period of time. I can also rework pieces easily, with the paper clay, you can cut parts out or off and redo it much more easily than you can with regular clay. If I decide I don’t like how something is working out I can cut off its head, flay it down to the bone, and start over.[laughter]

MKC: Plus you don’t need a kiln, right?

MI: Right. In general if its not too humid, small pieces dry overnight. It’s also very lightweight. I can work really thin and still have good structural stability.


MKC: Not perfect, though, right? What’s the downside?

MI: Honestly, a lot of people just don’t take it as seriously. If you want to be considered a “real” artist, getting materials from the hardware store or the neighborhood craft store is usually not the way to do it. A lot of galleries and museums aren't that interested in exhibiting mixed media. Serious collectors often aren't interested in buying work that is not primarily a single medium.

MKC: ...that's hard for those working as full-time artists who need to show and sell their work here. The market here is small.

MI: It is. I’m lucky that my art “habit” is supported by my day job. Plus, I like making weird stuff. I think of my pieces as stories rather than objects. If I were a better writer, I'd do that instead but because I'm not I have to tell my stories a different way. If I'm not interested in it, I don't want to make it. That said, I'm really happy when other people like my work and tell me their own stories about the pieces. I think that's the best part of making art—sparking people's curiosity,
encouraging them to share their own stories, sharing experiences.

MKC: Can be nice to have a small arts community sometimes, when so many artists and interested folks know each other and can interact directly.

MI: Hawai’i Craftsmen is full of people who have similar experiences with working in this
environment. It can be really nice to be around other artists who can share their experiences and be supportive of each other. Plus it’s always nice to know that you’re not the craziest person in town. [laughter]

MKC: What’s the best advice you’ve gotten?

Rabbit and CrocodileMI: Just make something already! What are you supposed to do when you have limited time, resources, and facilities? Not make anything at all because you think whatever you make is doomed to be second rate because you aren't a full-time artist with a well-equipped studio? I think that this is a secret fear of a lot of people, so they don’t even try. I come from a family of makers - dressmakers, knitters, cartoonists, and designers. But no one ever did it as a full-time job and everyone worked in rather spartan conditions.There were no dedicated studios, drafting tables, or fancy equipment. They made do with late nights, secondhand sewing machines, kitchen tables, and bad lighting. I think it would be safe to say that you’d have to be very determined and very stubborn to work under those conditions.

A wise person told me, "You have to ask yourself how bad do you want it?" My situation is an improvement over my mother's and other relatives but I am still working with several constraints.

If you want to make something, do it. If you don't have the means to buy supplies, see what you have around you. Don't wait around for things to be perfect. You might find out that your perfect moment is already here and waiting for you.

Interested in learning more about paper clay? This spring’s ‘AHA workshop series includes a paper clay workshop with Sara Ransford.

Hawaii Craftsmen Member Directory

While the Our Members directory to member webpages is viewable to the anyone who visits the Hawai’i Craftsmen website, the Member Directory is designed for members to be able to look up and message other members. Information is limited to what you as a member want to make available, and your privacy settings can be changed by logging in to (upper right corner - the username is the email address you use for your membership, and if you do not remember your password, click on “forgot password”). If you have trouble logging in, please contact our Office Administrator, John Friend (, 521-3282).

Hawaii Craftsmen Member News

January 8 – March 27, 2015

Public Reception: Thursday, January 8, 2015 / 6-8pm

Parc Promenade Gallery, Waikiki Parc Hotel

Theresa Marie Heinrich’s ceramic and mixed media sculptures are highlighted as part of an expanded arts partnership of the University of Hawai‘i at Manoa, the Halekulani and its sister hotel, the Waikiki Parc. Theresa Marie Heinrich, an imminent graduate of the UHM Department of Art and Art History, expects to receive a BFA degree in May, 2015. Based on her experiences with jewelry-making, encaustic wax, and acrylics, she began creating mixed media collages in 2004.  Her interest in translating the exotic energy and materials of tropical locations led her to spend time in Brazil and Costa Rica. She states, “My work is a celebration of the maximal, the baroque, and the obsessive. In my practice I embrace the present, the void, the moment between our thoughts and our feelings. Calculated to elicit unexpected results, my processes imbue each work with meaning.”

Parc Promenade Gallery, Waikiki Parc Hotel
Lobby 2233
Helumoa Road, Honolulu
Daily hotel hours / Free admission Complimentary parking with hotel validation

ART EXHIBITION: 13 WOMEN at the Pegge Hopper Gallery
13 artists: Reiko Brandon, Allyn Bromley, Kandi Everett, Sally French, Lynda Hess, Kloe Kang, Emily McIlroy, Mary Mitsuda, Marcia Morse, Esther Shimazu, Yida Wang, Suzanne Wolfe, and Maile Yawata.
Artists' Reception Thursday, January 22, 5:00 - 7:00 PM
Pegge Hopper Gallery
1164 Nuuanu Ave, Honolulu (Chinatown)
Exhibit runs January 20 - February 21, 2015

FEATURE STORY: Metro HNL, Amber Chesebro, jewelry designer
Salt of the Earth, January 5, 2015, by Christina O'Connor
“(Jewelry making) is a challenge to me,” Chesebro says. “It’s so broad, and there is so much that you can learn, so many different techniques. I just feel like I could be learning my whole life and still not exhaust all of my options.”

Calls to Artists

HCDA Hearing on Kaka'ako Artists' Live/Work Artspace

Artspace is seeking a permit to develop a live/work space for low-income artists in Kaka’ako. The first public hearing was held Dec 17 but was poorly attended by artists. The final hearing will be held Jan 21. If you are interested in attending, please contact Tom Gibson at Further information at this Notice of Public Hearing link.

Call for Applications: HSFCA Folk & Traditional Arts Grants

The Hawai‘i State Foundation on Culture and the Arts announces the call for applications for Folk

& Traditional Arts Grants for fiscal biennium 2016 and 2017. SFCA offers two types of grants - Apprenticeship Grants and Culture Learning Grants - to support folk and traditional arts across the cultural communities of our islands. Application instructions and forms will be available on the HSFCA website by January 5, 2015. The postmark application deadline is Monday March 2, 2015. It is strongly suggested that applicants discuss their project with staff before submitting the application; contact phone is 808 586-0771 (Denise Miyahana, Arts Program Specialist). For more information, please read the January 2015 SFCA newsletter.

Scholarship: Laila Twigg-Smith Art Scholarship at Penland School of Crafts

2015 Call for Applications deadline February 17, 2015

The Laila-Twigg Smith Art Scholarship is a full scholarship for a legal resident of Hawai'i who is a practicing artist, graduate student, or undergraduate student. The recipient will receive full tuition, room, and board for a two-week summer session at Penland. For details, please read the announcement.

Volunteer Opportunities

Hawai'i Craftsmen is seeking board members (including officers) for 2015 and 2016. For more information, please contact Mark White, board President, at

We're also looking for volunteers to help organize and plan the Annual Statewide Juried Exhibition for 2015. Interested? Please contact program chair Barbara Thompson at

Hawaii Craftsmen Events

January 21: Hawaii Craftsmen Board Meeting, 6:00 - 8:00 PM, Honolulu Museum of Art School (Linekona) Community Room

March 19 - 29: 'Aha Hana Lima workshops with Boyd Sugiki and Lisa Zerkowitz of Two Tone Studios (glass blowing), Catherine Nash (paper making), and Sara Ransford (paper clay sculpting). Dates are approximate; we'll update information on the 'AHA 2015 page when final dates are set.

May 18 - 25: Raku Ho'olaulea with guest artist Charley (and Linda) Riggs. Have you made your campsite/cabin reservation at Camp Mokule'ia yet?

June 4 - 27: Raku Exhibit at the ARTS at Marks Garage gallery. Dates are approximate; we'll update information on the Raku 2015 page when final dates are set.

September 12: Second Saturday at the Hawaii State Art Museum (HiSAM)

October 15 - November 18: Annual Statewide Juried Exhibition at the Honolulu Museum of Art School Gallery with guest juror Lowery Stokes Sims, curator at the Museum of Arts and Design (MAD) in NYC. Dates are approximate; we'll update information on the ASJE 2015 page when final dates are set.


Office: 1159 Nu'uanu Ave., Honolulu HI 96817 (same entrance as ARTS at Marks Garage gallery)
Office Administrator: John Friend,, (808) 521-3282
Newsletter Editor: Mamiko K. Carroll,
Board President: Mark White,


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