Let Our Eyes Be The Light

Text by AJ Feducia   ||  Images by Ara Feducia

Printmaker AJ Feducia reflects on his recent showcase Let Our Eyes Be the Light, which featured ten hand-cut industrial cranes on rosin paper alongside casted shadow prints of old airfields. The exhibition was meant to comment on the current cityscape that fills Honolulu skies, which continues to grow and morph daily.  

Living in Honolulu, it just seemed everywhere I looked there were cranes. I thought art should be a reflection of the place that you live in, your life, or the lives of the people around you. So my ideas were developing as the place was developing. I would look around everyday, like damn there’s another crane, damn there’s another crane. And it just became what filled my scope.

Some people associated the work to the Japanese story of a thousand paper cranes. It wasn’t something I had done intentionally, but it became very important because it’s about these sort of violent, big heavy things that are changing the earth, moving land and building things, so there is a war and peace element too. 

Part of this project was about the gesture of what a crane does: builds a building that’s eventually going to block light. Visually, that’s what we’re seeing being done to the landscape now. The other part involved cast shadows from light shining through plexiglass with old airfields screen-printed on them. It was a balance of what has been done in the past and what will be done in the future.

Crane 1.jpg

Everything I bought for the show was from Home Depot. This reddish paper is just rosin paper, like a drop cloth, and it’s really cheap and not supposed to last, so the entire medium is part of the message. The world we’re building isn’t going to last forever. It’s not exactly ethereal, but it rides the line of geologic time versus human time. Our buildings aren’t going to last millions of years like the earth has; it’s corresponding to the nature of steel, which is going to disappear the same way the paper is. 

I do believe that this is a big city, a metropolitan city, and I feel like people are acting like it’s not—that it’s not going to become one. And I think that’s what’s driving the whole affordable housing crisis. There’s a way to build and be responsible for the people here, but I feel like most of what’s happening is not. We’re witnessing things that are done to us that are not for us. Like at Ala Moana, how they took down that whole end of the mall to build condos. Who’s going to live in those? Do they think local people are going to live in those? 

Eventually what I’ll do with these is turn them into a bigger piece, stack them on each other so it looks like a jungle of cranes. Layered, it reminds me of old images of building in New York. You could imagine what the industrial revolution looked like when they first figured out how to build buildings, when it was nothing but cranes. You could imagine what it would be like looking through scaffolding, when there were no buildings, and you could see for miles, with these weird skeletons growing into bodies. 

I truly do think cranes are remarkable, both in the construction sense and what they’re actually capable of. I mean, they are beautiful in a weird way. I don’t want to give the idea that I’m anti-building; my work is not that aggressive. It’s about a balance that I keep because I love building. The crane itself is very much about balance too. I guess what I’m trying to get at is to be aware of what’s happening around us.