I’ve begun a new series based on faces formed by erosion, in a rock cliff and the surrounding terrain, on Maui's north shore. The first piece in this series is a triptych of three faces, titled Nā Kāhu Pōhaku (Rock Guardians). The image above is the 2nd face in the triptych - you can see the first face in my previous blog, and I will be posting the third face in my next blog. I began each piece using a photograph of one of the rock formations, that I had printed on lithograph paper, which I then drew into with Prismacolor pencils. I shaded areas and used patterns (inspired by traditional Hawaiian kapa) to accent the face in the image, while allowing other areas to recede. As I worked on these, I began to notice animals and creatures as well as the main face. Pareidolia is the phenomenon of perceiving a recognizable image or meaningful pattern where none exists. These images are great examples of Pareidolia.
If you look closely, you will see two pueo (owl), an ʻIʻiwi (Honeycreeper), a Night-Heron, two puhi (eel), a manō (shark), a dolphin and more. A few people have pointed out to me that the main face in this piece, brings to mind Kamapuaʻa, the Hawaiian shape shifting Pig God.
Many of the animals that I began to see are various Nā ʻAumākua (Hawaiian ancestral guradian spirits). Interestingly, pōhaku (rock) is also considered to be an ʻAumākua. As my awareness of the faces in the rock became conscious, I felt something beyond Pareidolia (a phenomenon of the brain) as though a communication was happening, and a relationship forming. This place continues to reveal new facets to me and I now know it in a much deeper way. I often feel the sense of having entered a community of beings when in the presence of these rock formations.
In Hawaiian mo'olelo (oral tradition) the northern most point of the island is considered to be a “jumping off” point for spirits in their transition to the afterworld.