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Skirting Issues: Hula Moves Stateside

March 18, 2023 - September 24, 2023

Through original artifacts, music, and related ephemera, including historical photographs exploring the Hawaiian craze of the late 1890s to the present. Visitors are invited to dance their way through the gallery and directly into challenging histories of authenticity, American colonialism, appropriation, complicity and resistance.

Hula has been a part of Indigenous Hawaiian culture for hundreds of years. Hula was a way of passing along knowledge from generation to generation. Over the past two centuries, hula has transitioned from a sacred ritual practice to a tourist attraction, becoming a target of appropriation as it gained popularity in American popular culture.

Skirting Issues uses the iconic image of the hula skirt to explore the fluid space between Hawaiian-based and Hawaiʻi-inspired ideas about hula.

Guest Curator

Amy Kuʻuleialoha Stillman is Arthur F. Thurnau Professor, and Professor of American Culture and Music at the University of Michigan. She currently serves as Director of Native American Studies, and past director of Asian/Pacific Islander American Studies. She is the author of Sacred Hula: The Historical Hula ʻĀlaʻapapa, and numerous articles, on the history of Hawaiian music and hula in leading scholarly journals (including American QuarterlyEthnomusicologyHawaiian Journal of History, and Journal of American Folklore). She has served as reviewer and consultant to leading arts agencies nationally. Her curatorial experience includes a series of four mass concerts and CDs with the organization Kūlia i ka Pūnāwai (Kumu Hula Association of Southern California) involving the participation of fifteen hula troupes in Southern California. As a songwriter and lyricist, she has co-produced three CDs with artist Tia Carrere and singer-songwriter Daniel Ho, two of which won Grammy awards for Best Hawaiian Album, in 2008 and 2010. 

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