Hawai‘i, with its distinct and complex histories, is an ideal site to offer visiting artists an experience not possible elsewhere. TRADES explores the idea of cultural syncretism — that multicultural influences contribute to a local culture that is greater than the sum of its parts. TRADES creates a round-trip circuit for contemporary art in the islands, with the introduction of offshore techniques and the exportation of local perspectives.
At the core of our mission is a Visiting Artist in Residence Program. TRADES aims to fund travel, lodging and studio space for selected national and international visiting artists. TRADES is dedicated to featuring artists with diverse backgrounds and points of view.
True reciprocal exchange is tantamount to a successful TRADES residency. We pursue engaged and active audiences. Our model gives local folks space, agency and initiative to share complex aspects of Hawai‘i’s culture (both the indigenous and the colonized); local knowledge; and modes of research. Our audiences are varied and often directly connected to the individual artist’s expressed interests: whether it’s a group of water protectors on Maui, 1st grade students in Mililani planting a native garden, or young contemporary artists curated into a group exhibition.
In turn, communities beyond Hawai‘i are cultivated via the experiences that visiting artists take with them; ripples traveling outward with a global reach. International galleries, institutions and biennials have become platforms that showcase local collaborations made possible by our program; and that reflect attention back towards contemporary artists of Hawai‘i.
Hawai‘i’s remoteness is both a benefit and a hinderance to the arts. Our relative isolation allows artists to develop clear personal voices and preserves the integrity of local culture, but it also prevents those artists from engaging in broader contexts and having their work appreciated by larger audiences. There are scores of young, vibrant contemporary artists here who are seeking more established outlets for their creativity. TRADES seeks to bridge that gap by providing resources and support to visiting artists and by introducing local talent to experts in the field.
We recognize that making isn’t just about finished products; we privilege process over results. We embrace inquisitiveness and adaptability. We ask our A.i.R.s to arrive open to an immersive and embedded experience; and with questions and projects in mind that will be formed and informed by their time in Hawaiʻi. There is no standard residency experience. We work directly with artists to facilitate their research, and to connect them with Hawaiʻi’s landscapes, peoples, and histories. Our A.i.R.’s curiosity often leads us in new directions, broadening and deepening our networks. Congruently, A.i.R.s bring with them their own knowledge, experiences, and practices; and we are eager to share their fresh perspectives with our local communities. Our A.i.R.’s visits are just the beginning of ongoing relationships, conversations, and ways of thinking—for them and for us. TRADES offers a residency that is only available here.
TRADES was founded by Don Felix Cervantes and Aaron Wong in January 2016. TRADES gratefully acknowledges the support of the Atherton Family Foundation and the Cooke Foundation. A sponsored project of Fractured Atlas, our intended reach is to all Hawaiian Islands and to visiting artists worldwide.
TRADES A.i.R. operates with the help of the generous support from the following:
ATHERTON FAMILY FOUNDATION
RUTH ARTS FOUNDATION
RUTH ARTS FOUNDATION