Big Island artist shows eruption-inspired painting

  • "Laze II," 2018, mixed media on paper, by artist Bailey Ferguson.

Puna resident Bailey Ferguson will show a piece in a developing larger series of abstract artwork inspired by the recent Kilauea eruption.

“I’m using this series to heal from some of the trauma felt as a result of mine and many of my friends’ lives being turned upside down by the recent eruption,” Ferguson said.

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She and many of her fellow Puna residents have endured destruction, uprooting from their community and fear of the unknown.

“As a way to understand the chaos surrounding her, Bailey Ferguson’s bold abstract work explores this state of flux — a dance between destruction and creation, which was induced by her recent displacement due to volcanic activity,” said Mina Elison, curator at the Kona Historical Society. “The relevance of Ferguson’s recent paintings is powerful, presenting an important visual representation of the experience, trying to understand and accept the concurrent nature of these seemingly opposing elements of destruction and creation.”

The artist evacuated her home and art studio after the 6.9-magnitude earthquake on May 3. While displaced, Ferguson embraced new tools and mediums such as house paint, pencil, palette knives and rollers.

“I’ve been a traditional oil painter for 12 years, and when I left my studio in Puna I embraced materials that were easily assessable and transportable,” she said. “The volcano forced my art in a new direction, and I’m going with the flow.”

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Ferguson hopes the work can inspire others to use art as therapy, and that the work can offer a different vantage point of the eruption.

“So many of us are experiencing destruction, but also extreme beauty — which can create confusion in the mind and spirit,” she said. “Art can bring both sides together.”