East Hawaii News

Art meets climate change activism in “Deliquesce” exhibit

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A new exhibit at the East Hawai‘i Cultural Center in Downtown Hilo shows how nature absorbs the impact of human interventions, but dissolution may be the end result.

Mary Babcock’s labor-intensive art uses wax paper as the primary medium. Photo courtesy of Andrzej Kramarz.

In “Deliquesce: absorbing so much water as to liquify and melt away,” visual and performance artist Mary Babcock takes the chemistry concept of “deliquesce,” or absorbing water to the point of liquifying and melting away as some salts do, and applies it to sea level rise and climate change in the Pacific Ocean.

The exhibit will be on view from Dec. 3 to Jan. 27, 2023, with an opening reception at 6 p.m. Friday a the cultural center.

Babcock’s primary medium is household wax paper, which she chooses for its paradoxical and metaphorical nature — it is meant to preserve and protect, yet is fragile and impermanent. Her works, which are highly labor-intensive, address humanity’s myopic attempts to harness nature’s power for self-interest and the reverberations of such arrogance.


Inspired by multiple narratives from around the Pacific, Babcock mends her pieces together as a personal and political gesture of restoration and repair.

Mending is a central theme in Babcock’s work. She is a professor in sculpture and expanded practices in the Department of Art and Art History at the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa, and has exhibited regionally, nationally and internationally. Her work appears in significant public collections, including the Los Angeles County Museum of Art and multiple U.S. embassies.

For more information, check out the East Hawai‘i Cultural Center online, call 961-5711 or visit cultural center in person at 141 Kalakaua St. in Hilo. Gallery and office hours are 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday through Friday and 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturdays.



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