Paper and Blade

Paper and Blade: Storytelling Under the Knife, new works by Mayumi Hamanaka, Adrienne Heloise, Ian Kuali`i, and Kai Margarída-Ramirez de Arellano presented in partnership with Kua'aina Associates and Galeria de la Raza, July 2013-June 2014.

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A team of four cut paper artists will engage in an artistic process inspired by cultural and historical phenomenon. Each artist comes from a different ethnic background; national origin and aesthetic style thus bring to the project diversity of beliefs and practices that is the dynamic foundation for this artistic convergence. The artists will engage in an installation experiment to explore their disparate cultural histories charting separate and intertwined chronologies through the context of universal and the sacred, and forging science and magic from multiple directions. Their individual practices entail the use of hidden meanings within images and symbols, which will be an interesting point of departure. The framework of this artistic collaboration will allow for the intersection of historical Identity and create a model for transmutation of past episodes and its affect on the present and how we might approach or look at the future. The artists are fascinated by the ephemeral quality of paper and how it is much like the fleeting experience of human memories/stories and of life itself. The cutting of paper is a slow, deliberate, and often a solitary practice that lends itself to a magical quality – an alchemical process, speaking to the divine dichotomy of destruction and creation.

Open Studio at the de Young
Artist Reception
Exhibit at Galeria de la Raza


Mayumi Hamanaka uses historical photographs and references to examine memory and the mistakes of the past. She uses a subtle process of cutting topographies into photographs, where details start to disappear and amorphous white forms develop like oversize puzzle pieces. Up close they suggest topographical contour maps, but the contours are layers of paper cutouts secured by tiny metal studs. These layers speak to the layers of earth that consists of layers of formerly living things, including humans.

Adrienne Heloise researches historical events as the basis for her work and translates early European paintings into contemporary explorations of intimacy, gender and power.  She cuts colored paper, recycled security envelopes and vinyl to recreate images from the French Romantic era paintings. She delves into the isolation and titillation of homosocial interaction by appropriating the symbols of 19th century western royalty, weaponry and fashion.

Ian Kuali`i’s creative process is "The meditative process of destroying to create." Blending the contrasting elements of loose graffiti techniques with detailed hand cut paper to manifest unique compositions. His work is a balance between the rough and delicate while exploring ideas of modern progress dependent on a foundation in one’s own history. His art is influenced by his ancestral ties to the Southwest United States and Hawaii, as well as Masonic symbolism, mysticism, global politics and themes of urban decay.

Kai Margarida-Ramírez was born in Puerto Rico and raised in New Mexico. This double sense of home has given her a unique perspective on post-colonial, feminist and border identity. Specializing in paper cutting and embroidery, Kai's artwork fuses her family mythology, pop-culture, and intricate handiwork. Her most recent paper cuts source from family stories and photographs taken by her great-great-grandmother, thereby establishing inter-generational collaborations with her ancestors. This process has allowed Kai to collapse time and explore her space as a woman between cultures, languages, and epochs. Kai is based in Brooklyn, NY and is an MFA Fine Arts candidate at Parsons The New School for Design.


This project is presented in partnership with Kua'aina Associates and Galeria de la Raza.

The Artist Fellows program is made possible with major support from the James Irvine Foundation's Innovation Fund and the Institute of Museum and Library Services’ Museums for America program. 


Kua`aina Associates, Inc., is an East Bay based non-profit organization that provides capacity building assistance to Indigenous cultural and art organizations, individual artists and produces special art & cultural projects. Kua`aina operates under the belief that working collectively on a project provides an opportunity for a more monumental outcome, thereby contributing to the maintenance and sharing of the life ways of cultural and artistic expression. 

Kua`aina Associates’ Vision is to support the continuity of indigenous knowledge and expression through art and cultural practices as a means to evoke a new vision during a new time, thus embracing a universal message of peace, compassion, tolerance and healing.

Kua`aina Associates’ Mission is to perpetuate indigenous cultures and the arts by supporting projects that provide opportunities for emerging indigenous artists and cultural masters in both traditional and contemporary forms through program development, program management and special  projects.

Founded in 1970, Galería de la Raza is a non-profit community-based arts organization whose mission is to foster public awareness and appreciation of Chicano/Latino art and serve as a laboratory where artists can both explore contemporary issues in art, culture and civic society, and advance intercultural dialogue. To implement our mission, the Galería supports Latino artists in the visual, literary, media and performing art fields whose works explore new aesthetic possibilities for socially committed art.