Haleakala: Iliahi (Sandalwood)
Art quilt celebrating Haleakala National Park, Hawaii
There are many species of sandalwood around the Pacific. For time out of mind, mainly because of its lovely fragrance, many cultures utilized the wood or its oil – particularly in religious rituals – for incense, medicines, architecture, and carvings. Hawaiians named their sandalwood the Iliahi.
When I researched the flora of Haleakala, I was attracted to this tree because of the beautifully complementary colors of its red blossoms and large green leaves. Further investigation dismayed me: the economic and ecological havoc the iliahi trade caused Hawaii, beginning around 1790. Within twenty years it was their major export. Hawaiians were displaced from agriculture and fishing in order to provide labor for harvesting the wood. When it became scarce, they would even set fire in the forests to locate stands of the remaining trees, from its sweet smell as it burned. By 1830, the iliahi had all but disappeared from forests and the Hawaiian economy collapsed. Today, the iliahi grows high on Maui’s less-accessible volcanic slopes, particularly on Haleakala.
My quilt shows various aspects of the iliahi, including the wood grain, and dimensional leaves with the fruit shown in the quilting. A lonely survivor is imagined with the Haleakala volcano looming in the distance. Honoring traditional Hawaiian quilting, I developed a design of the leaves and blossoms – but are those volcanic craters, or stumps?
20 x 20 inches
Fiber art for the wall, decorative objects, and fiber art jewelry. Most pieces are made with my signature “thread sculpture” technique, because fiber art is unique!
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