Exhibit offers opportunities to interact with art

A piece by Erin Gabrielle Lenchanko invites patrons to touch and feel art – Darryl Kaneyuki

I Don’t Know How I Feel But I Feel You” was an exhibition exploring the human connection through audio, visual and interactive art curated by local artist Maxfield Smith. It was on display at Gallery ‘Iolani from April 7 to May 2.

Over the 25 years that Toni Martin has been the gallery director, she has only invited three emerging, local artists to participate in a gallery mentorship program to plan and design an exhibit. Smith, recognized for his photography in Chinatown, was the first of the three artists who wasn’t enrolled in an university art program. Trisha Lagaso Goldsmith, a Gallery ‘Iolani advisory board member, co-mentored Maxfield to produce the exhibit.

“It is an exhibition which considers our seemingly immediate and innate ability to connect with others without reason or understanding of how such a sensation is generated,” Martin wrote in the exhibit description. “It’s happened to everyone: you meet someone for the first time and feel like you already know them.”

Smith took the opportunity to feature nine of his friends’ work in addition to his own.

“All the people who contributed were stoked,” Smith said. “I guess that’s a plus. Also, learning how to work in an institutional setting was a good experience.”

Martin says she provided guidance when necessary and that it was “exciting to work with someone who has different ideas than you.”

Throughout the show, visitors were encouraged to touch, feel and manipulate the art. For example, a painting of a lake was covered by glass, and the artist asked patrons to use markers to deface the piece.

“It was more of pushing the typical gallery setting to incorporate the viewers into the show,” Smith said. “It came out of wanting to try new things.”

Hanging portraits by Smith could be turned over with your hands. A door by artist Alec Singer brazened with the words “See you on the other side” stood before a wall bearing more of Singer’s visual art. Other interactive art included photo flipbooks showing a large black swan and a swarm of koi fish eating.

A film by Shiloh Garner featuring a scantily-clad woman in a bikini mashed up with other visual elements and evoked the feeling of looking into a kaleidoscope. Garner asked viewers to question why they were not able to walk away from his video, tying in the recurring theme of the invisible and sometimes overlooked connection between individuals.

On the comment wall near the exhibit’s exit, many viewers left comments on how being able to touch the art made for a unique experience.

“I feel it :),” read one comment.


by Darryl Kaneyuki, Ka ‘Ohana Staff Reporter