Driven by a passion for Native culture stories, legends and mythology, fine art carver Keoni re-imagines wood as woven and beaded basketry. Using sharpened steel, inks and organic dyes, he creates story-driven one-of-a-kind illusions. Following careers as a writer, photographer, and art director for both automotive and technology companies, business-world retirement in 2017 allowed Keoni the time and space to explore a heart-felt passion for wood, lathe-turning and contemporary art. “Illusion carving” as a style can be traced back centuries as first Asian and then European artisans evolved techniques to manipulate one medium to appear as another. Only in recent decades were the techniques applied using wood as a medium.
The artist works freehand, drawing from recollections and notebooks of tribal imagery. Once a Sugar Maple “canvas” has been shaped, designs are burned at high temperatures onto the wood using a single, 1/8” straight-line tool. It is not uncommon for artwork to require 25,000+ individual cuts/burns/colored cells to execute a design. Today, Keoni is among the very few excelling in the application of these unusual techniques using wood as a means to interpret tribal stories bringing to life distant memories, honored heritage and a reverence for shared history. In keeping with family tradition, the artist was gifted his Hawaiian name Keoni, by his wife’s uncle following marriage. As an artist, Keoni believes himself still very new born… beginning his journey and exploring his voice.
Items displayed at our gallery