Big Island artist awarded for eruption-inspired artwork

  • Courtesy image “DISPLACED: The Day the Red Glow Stopped,” an acrylic on canvas, by Bailey Ferguson.

  • Photo by CHEF ELLARD Kahilu Theatre Exhibits Curator and artist Margo Ray, artist Dominic Tidmarsh, juror artist and educator Carl F.K. Pao, SFCAÊ Executive Director Jonathan Johnson, artist Bailey Ferguson and artist Gary Hoff during the award ceremony in March at the Kahilu Theatre in Waimea.

Big Island resident Bailey Ferguson’s painting, “DISPLACED: The Day the Red Glow Stopped,” won first prize in the Kahilu Exhibits annual juried exhibition of Hawaii state artists hosted at the Kahilu Theatre in Waimea.

The exhibition call for entry was for “an exhibition that explores the dual forces of creation and destruction that shape our lives and the world around us.” Ferguson’s painting, part of a larger series called “DISPLACED,” explores the dynamic movement of the lava below the surface and above, filling landscape and coastlines, altering neighborhoods, flooding the night sky.

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The title of the painting refers to the moment in time when the lava from fissure 8 began to slow and the warming nighttime glow began to diminish.

“I started this painting at the time when we were unsure what the volcano had in store for us next. I’m honored my work resonated with other people that also experienced this dramatic event.” Ferguson said.

“For Bailey’s piece … to be the end of fissure 8, I felt all that underneath the work. And there is that one little bit (of lava) that is still part of a remembrance of everything that happened,” said Carl F.K. Pao, juror for this year’s show. “For me, it epitomized all the destruction and it seemed like a place for us to leave, to part, and look for other things.”

As an artist directly impacted by the 2018 Kilauea lower East Rift Zone eruption, Ferguson had unanticipated and positive outcomes from a year of upheaval and evacuation. Ferguson has been a traditional oil painter for 12 years; when displaced, she embraced a new style of painting.

This has been realized in the “DISPLACED” series, an investigation into the impermanence that comes with living on an active volcanic island.

Ferguson’s work is displayed on Hawaii Island at the Donkey Mill Art Center in Holualoa, House of Fire in Kalapana, Gallery of Great Things in Waimea and Puna Gallery and Gift Emporium in Pahoa.

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She is a finalist for the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park/National Parks Arts Foundation Artist-in-Residence program, where she hopes to finish the “DISPLACED” series close to her source of inspiration.

“Transformative Forces: Creation through Destruction” was on exhibit through April 27. The second and third place winners were Dominic Tidmarsh and Gary Hoff. The Hawaii State Foundation on Culture and the Arts Awards Acquisition Selection Committee selected works by Pao, Margo Ray and Tidmarsh for its permanent collection. The show featured 24 artists from the state in a variety of media and content.

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