20 for the Next 20 2015
Artist and Illustrator
Jobs. cultural preservation. The environment. These issues offer challenges to Hawaii today and solving them is no small feat, but Solomon Enos is attempting to tackle each with every stroke of his paintbrush.
Enos, a Native Hawaiian, shown above with his son Moacyr, grew up in Waianae with parents who encouraged, inspired and supported his vision. His father co-founded Kaala Farm, a cultural learning center that teaches children about the importance of Hawaiian culture and the land. From these early experiences, he says, he cultivated a plan to “reboot the narrative of a place,” and create a “better version of Hawaii.”
His solution? Bring Hawaii’s culture into the mainstream. He’s using his art as a platform to begin a conversation about a new Hawaii, one that’s imbued in historical and cultural narrative and values nature, not destroys it. Essentially, he believes that, if he builds it, they (jobs, cultural awareness and environmental preservation) will come.
He’s already doing that with his murals, paintings and illustrations in books, schools and communities. He’s generating jobs by recruiting other local artists to do what he’s doing. And he’s opening the door to a new genre with the creation of Polyfantastica, a 40,000-year timeline, which intertwines fantasy, sci-fi and traditional stories from Hawaii’s past. His larger hope is that, by fueling this new industry, a sense of pride, purpose and vision will return to Hawaii’s people while simultaneously reviving tourism and, ultimately, hope. “I want to create Hawaii art for Hawaii people. Communities need art. We have something unique and so special. We just have to cook it, put it in the right form for people to digest it. Stories can be that thing.”
Enos is a self-proclaimed “intelligent optimist.” Some might call him an idealist. But, for many people, he’s the real thing. Kay Fukuda has worked for the past five years with Enos on the Program for Afterschool Literary Support, or PALS. She speaks of his passion, talents and heartfelt interactions with others, including their students.
“If you observe him, he listens to what our students say … and I know that child knows he or she is really important to this very talented artist. I know that child experiences it,” she says. “… I just adore him and what he brings to the world.”