Climate change artist: Sean Yoro, HULA
Last time we introduced Marshallese poet, artist, educator and activist Kathy Jetn̄il-Kijiner. Since then, we started to think of writing about more artworks relevant to climate issues. We did some research, learning new things and having some discoveries in the process. Today we share another climate change artist with you: Sean Yoro, HULA.
HULA grew up in Hawaii. Over the years he has developed his distinct medium of mural painting. He would ride on a surfboard with all his paints and brushes, painting the docks for days and nights. His images are usually beautiful young ladies. But each of them is unique with their countenance, postures or symbols on their bodies. HULA often has to adapt his painting sequences to the tides and sometimes would paint overnight. The tides determine how much the female figures are above water surface. As you could think of, another determining factor is the sea level. The higher the sea level, the less the paintings are exposed. By this, HULA draws the public awareness to the climate crisis. A clever way, isn’t it? If you search a bit, you would find some of HULA’s female figures are beautiful with a sense of unspoken melancholy. Are they being drowned? Are they asking for help? I am not sure but I would think so.
In 2019, HULA did a project titled Deep Seads. He used ecofriendly paints to make three paintings at the seabed of Hawaii. He did all three paintings by free diving. Each time he could work underwater for two minutes. Then he came up and dived again.
Among the three underwater works, Buried is an eye image at the seabed looking up. The clear eye stares straight, like watching you when you dive. It would be a watchful eye which guards the ocean. But it would also be a fragile organ which would be easily buried by sands. Its precarity alludes to the environment which needs our protection. The environment would live, or even live better, without humans but it I fragile before humans’ pollution. Please cherish the environment and every tiny bit of it.