I ‘Crown Land’ Kēia no Kāua
(This Crown Land was Made for You and Me)
An art installation by Richard Earl Leong Yu Ralya. Framed digital print (derived from a vintage photograph of Queen Liliuokalani) on archival sugarcane paper, vinyl cut, QR codes, and Hawaiian red earth.
Richard Earl Leong Yu Ralya graduated from the San Francisco Art Institute… a school with a long history of notable artists, from its early years with faculty Clyfford Still, Mark Rothko, and Ansel Adams, to more recent alumni Aaron Noble and Barry McGee.
Richard’s last exhibition in November 2012, A Libelous Rogue Wit, was a return to the roots of inspiration during his early years as a painter, showing nothing but abstract work on paper and canvas. This new work, opening Friday April 5th, is an orchestration of digitally manipulated vintage photography, fine art framing, QR codes, song lyrics, and a large scale wall piece involving a red dirt resist. Unlike his previous exhibition that relied solely upon emotion and intuition, this installation explores ideas of cultural identity and the commodification of a culture in the face of manifest destiny. The show references two iconic songs from the past: Queen Liluokalani’s Aloha ‘Oe, and Woody Guthrie’s, This Land is Your Land. Both of which have been embraced as cultural anthems.
Aloha ‘Oe – “The quintessential marketing song, attracting tourists to Hawaii from around the world. Fueling a tourist industry that marketed Hawaii in such a way that began to eclipse the true Hawaiian culture. At its origin, it’s a Queen’s farewell to a lover. But for me, it could also be seen as a requiem for her people, her land, and her culture.”
Aloha `oe, aloha `oe
E ke onaona noho i ka lipo
One fond embrace,
A ho`i a`e au
Until we meet again
This Land is Your Land – “I remember hearing this song a million times growing up in Virginia. While I doubt the song is as widely known today… in my youth, it was an anthem that symbolized the pride of a nation. For me, it was an anthem that made a failed promise of equality for all. An anthem that could also be seen as a celebration of the successful colonization of the Americas.”
This land is your land, this land is my land
From California, to the New York Island
From the redwood forest, to the gulf stream waters
This land was made for you and me