In September 2012, Solomon Enos had the opportunity to travel with a NOAA expedition to Papāhanaumokuākea Marine National Monument (Northwestern Hawaiian Islands). The Hi‘ialakai research vessel visited nearly every atoll and island in Papāhanaumokuākea, a place of spiritual significance in traditional Hawaiian cosmology. Enos professed to experiencing a profound awe when he encountered the “kūpuna islands,” as he called them.
“It is a realm of extremes. The Island of Nihoa stood erect alone as a single tooth — hot, jagged, and fiercely static,” Enos recalls. “In perpendicular contrast were the dynamic blues of the ocean, cold and swift. Yet these extremes were unified by explosions of life: the constant spirals of uncountable seabirds high above and the teeming corals that thrive hidden beneath the waves.
“All throughout this trip, I experienced a keen mingling of terror and wonder that drove me beyond the limited I had set for myself as an artist. I concluded that, as foreign and surreal as these seascapes seemed to me, they reflected who we are as a species. So in each of the 16 paintings I created aboard the Hi‘ialakai, I incorporated the human form because it seemed to me that our kūpuna (elders) were connected to this region. Not only would our souls pass through these kūpuna islands, but so, too, would these islands digest and recycle our physical forms back into our base materials as we return to our oceans into the collective womb — into the blackness of beginnings to accompany our souls into the Realm of Pō [the realm of the divine and heavenly].”
Six, Eight, Nine, Ten, Thirteen, and Sixteen, Realm of Pō Series, 2012, Papāhanaumokuākea, Northwestern Hawaiian Islands
»» Archival reproduction prints from this series are also available for purchase. See the PRINTS section of this website.