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  • About the Artist:Joy Lehuanani Enomoto

Joy Lehuanani Enomoto is a Kanaka Maoli, African American, Japanese, Caddo Indian, Punjabi, and Scottish visual artist, archivist, and social justice activist. Her work engages with climate justice mapping, extractive colonialism, saltwater conversations that occur within the space of the diaspora, the policing of black and brown bodies, the Black Pacific, demilitarization, and other issues currently affecting the peoples of Oceania. Her artwork and scholarship have been featured in Detours: A Decolonial Guide to Hawai'i (Duke University Press, 2019); the Routledge Handbook of Postcolonial Politics (Routledge 2018); Na Wahine Koa: Hawaiian Women for Sovereignty and Demilitarization (University of Hawai'i Press 2018); Finding Meaning: Kaona and Contemporary Hawaiian Literature (University of Arizona Press, 2016); Absolute Humidity (Hardworking Goodlooking, 2018); Amerasia Journal; Bamboo Ridge: Journal of Hawai'i Literature and Arts; Slate Magazine; and Hawai'i Review.

In 2016, Joy worked as a set designer for the play Her Bodies of Stories by Lyz Soto, and in 2018 she worked on various projects with the regional youth organization Youngsolwara, co-curating the exhibition Mai Em(ocean) in Suva, Fiji, with Papua New Guinean artist Jeffry Feeger, employing art as a tool to support West Papua's decolonization, and participating in artist talks during the Melanesian Arts Festival in Honiara, Solomon Islands. Also in 2018, as part of her master's portfolio, Joy worked with spoken-word artist and climate-justice activist Kathy Jetn̄il-Kijiner and community photographers in Mājro, Marshall Islands, to facilitate the exhibition Aelõñ in Aibojooj (Beautiful Small Things). Joy's plans for 2020 include continuing her collaboration with Jetn̄il-Kijiner through the exhibition Inundation at the University of Hawai'i–Mānoa Art Gallery.

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Photo by Rowen Tabusa

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We Did Not See It Coming, by Joy Lehuanani Enomoto, 2018.

Ink on paper, thread, 36 x 24 in.

We Did Not See It Coming uses the jellyfish as a metaphor for the development of Oceania. Jellyfish are seductively beautiful, incredibly stealthy, and capable of inflicting irreversible harm or death. By the time you realize you are stung, it may already be too late. This is how capitalist-driven, resource-extracting development, such as deep-sea mining, presents itself to the governments of Oceania—a beautiful package with potentially fatal consequences. While jellyfish are vital to the ocean, pollution or other ocean imbalances may create disproportionate jellyfish blooms, preventing other creatures from recovering. As we have seen, unchecked development has nearly paralyzed the economies of Oceania and has driven climate change. The jellyfish reminds us that balance is vital for our survival. [End Page x]

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Bounded Space, by Joy Lehuanani Enomoto, 2015.

Bleached coral and string on painted scrap plywood, 12 x 9 in.

Our islands are bounded by reefs. They are rich sources of food and of ecological biodiversity that is rooted in symbiotic relationships. When I learned that stress from rising water temperatures causes coral to expel the algae that produce the vibrant colors of the reefs, shocking them white and potentially killing them, I saw a direct correlation to colonialism and cultural imperialism in Oceania. Colonialism in essence shocked us into whiteness and threatened to kill the rich diversities of our cultures. Despite all of this, we remain committed to our islands. Bleached coral vividly shows the direct impacts of climate change, a global phenomenon significantly compounded by generations of colonialism. [End Page xi]

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Great Protector, by Joy Lehuanani Enomoto, 2015.

Woodcut, block ink, shoe polish, chalk, 24 x 36 in.

This work is part of a series responding to deep-sea mining exploration in the seas surrounding Papua New Guinea and other Pacific nations, which is threatening all life on the seabed. Nautilus Minerals Inc was the first company to receive exploration licenses from Papua New Guinea to search for polymetallic nodules. This search for precious metals to meet the ever-increasing demands of new technology is often referred to as the new gold rush. However, the company's namesake, the nautilus...


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