Geologic Forces From Iceland to Hawai‘i Inspire New Exhibit at EHCC in Hilo

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Hamilton Kobayashi’s “Flume” (c.2016), oil on canvas, can be seen in the “Terra Forma” exhibit. (Image from the collection of Liam Simmons and courtesy of East Hawai‘i Cultural Center)

An upcoming exhibit at the East Hawai‘i Cultural Center in downtown Hilo imagines Earth as a vast, diverse and dynamic living entity.

“Terra Forma” showcases the work of eight artists who originate from far-flung locations: Icelandic artists Halldór Ásgeirsson, Heimir Björgúlfsson and Arngunnur Ýr; Solomon Enos, Leslie Gleim, Hamilton Kobayashi and Michelle Schwengel-Regala from Hawai‘i; and Mucyo from Rwanda. The exhibit will be on view from Aug. 6-Sept. 30, with a 6 p.m. Friday, Aug. 5, opening.

The exhibit’s title, adapted from the science fiction term terraforming, describes the long-term transformation of an alien environment to one that can support human life.


Magma, originating in the earth’s mantle, emerges as lava through volcanoes and seamounts, creating new land. The oldest lava flows on Earth are about 4 billion years old. By comparison, ancestors of modern humans appeared about 5-7 million years ago. Some lava fields can turn to soil supporting plant life in roughly four years, but it can take 25,000 years for a lava flow area to develop into a viable ecosystem.

The artists featured in “Terra Forma” view these phenomena through the lenses of geomorphology and indigenous interpretations of natural phenomena. In addition to oral histories by elders and stories of volcano deities, the exhibition’s references include Hawai‘i’s emerging seamount Kamaʻehuakanaloa, previously known as Lōʻihi, located off the southern portion of the Big Island, and the subglacial volcano Fagradalsfjall on Iceland’s Reykjanes Peninsula.

There also are representations of Kīlauea’s lava lake and the lava lake of Mount Nyiragongo in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, near the border with Rwanda.


The exhibit is guest curated by physician and world traveler Koan Jeff Baysa.

East Hawai‘i Cultural Center gallery and office hours are from 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Tuesday through Friday and 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Saturday.

For more information, visit the East Hawai‘i Cultural Center online, call 808-961-5711 or visit EHCC at 141 Kalākaua St. in Hilo.

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