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Tali Alisa Hafoka: Carried Across

Sep 30, 2022 – Jan 7, 2023

Tali Alisa Hafoka, Gauguin Series N: 04, 22" x 28", Oil on canvas, 2011

Tali Alisa Hafoka’s paintings depict food, American corporate products, and imagery from the Western art canon as a lens to explore culture, connection, consumption, and identity in Pacific Islander diasporic communities. In the first body of work, Hafoka focuses on the importance of food as a symbol of Pacific Islander culture—the nuances of how it’s sourced, prepared, and shared—and its central function at social gatherings. Many of the dishes are presented as offerings, drawing from the Pacific Islander idea of sharing or “giving without self-regard.”

The second body of work explores personal and Pacific Islander identity through recreations of images from Western Art history—from Paul Gauguin to stereotypical dashboard hula dancers. Reclaiming exoticized representations of her culture, Hafoka uses these works as shells in which she positions her own self-portrait, creating a disruption in the stereotype through self-authorship.

Evolution of identity and its cultural aesthetic occurs when culture is displaced, transported, and moved––influenced by new surroundings. Samoan, raised in Hawaii, and later living in Utah, Hafoka’s identity resides in the intangible state of in-between, entangling her lived experience of what is now and what is traditional.