“Aina” the land, the source, home. Living in these soulful islands, I feel a spiritual bond at the core of my being with the aina, and this is the source of my inspiration in sculpture. Organic shapes, textures and colors infuse both my abstract and figurative work. To me, sculpture should have a sense of the undefined and the infinite. It should speak a language of touch and sight that reaches the subconscious in ways words cannot. I believe that the level of my creative intent can also imbue the work with spiritual energy, or “Mana” as it is called in Hawaiian, and this energy directly effects the viewer. The work must be dynamic in these ways and at the same time, reveal a sense of harmony and balance.
Also, my figurative work needs to be far more than strictly representative. It is essential that a story be told using symbolism, gesture, form, or whatever means necessary to relay a message. The figure needs to connect with meaning beyond itself so that all is not evident in the image alone, and the viewer gravitates to the inner significance. There should be a sense of movement in the clothing, the hair, the feet, the hands. It should all speak organically of life and spirit. It is always the greatest compliment to me when dancers come and tell me that they see themselves represented in my work, or when someone points to one of the figures and says “that’s Moloka’i style”. Here is a language of shapes and symbols that stir forgotten memories. Working on this level has the potential to bring the viewer more in touch with their own link to the earth.
Originally from Ohio, Kim Duffett found his bent at age six when he began sculpting birds in wood. Kim went on to study sculpture, painting and drawing the human figure in schools on the East Coast, among them Barlow School of the Arts. Soon after this, he began casting in bronze. Upon graduating high school, Kim traveled through Europe, North Africa and East Africa studying their art. Returning to the United States, he eventually moved to Hawaii in 1979, where he was inspired by the land and culture of Hawaii. A three year sailing voyage in the South Pacific (1982-85) brought him in further contact with other Polynesian cultures and carvers from Fiji, Papua New Guinea, The Solomon Islands to Vanuatu, artistic traditions that continue to inspire him.
Back in Hawaii, Duffett exhibited his work in galleries and juried exhibitions. His first major commissioned sculpture was for the “Courtyards at Punahou”, (1991) a figurative bronze and cast stone fountain (13’x 8′) that graces the porta cochere of this luxury condominium in Honolulu. Duffett’s connection with the Hilton began in 1990 with the exhibition of his abstract bronzes in the Hilton Hawaiian Village’s Ali’i Courtyard, followed by the bronze fountains of ‘Iolani Luahine and Alfred Apaka in the Tapa Tower entrance in 1997 and “Seascape” in 2003. In May 2001, Duffett completed “Kaha ka ‘Io me na Makani” a trio of twice life sized, hula kahiko dancers fronting the Hilton’s Kalia Tower. These majestic art pieces are the most often photographed sculptures in Hawaii. From June through August of 2003 a major body of Duffett’s work featuring the premiere of his series of bronze miniatures of “Kaha ka ‘Io me na Makani” was showcased at Ku Makani Gallery at the Hilton in Waikiki.
Kim has done other private and corporate commissions as well as for the Hawai’i State Foundation on Culture and the Arts and the City & County of Honolulu. His work is in private collections in Italy, Canada, Holland, Australia, Hong Kong, Panama, Hawaii and the mainland US. His work can also be viewed at the Cedar Street Gallery in HonolulU.
He was given the HVCB Kahili award for his three 2x life size hula dancers in front of the Hilton in 2003. Kim was part of an exhibit of Hawaii’s Modern Masters in 2015, and his sculpture of Don Ho was a prominent feature in the 2019 Urban Land Institute’s Global Awards for Excellence, honoring the International Marketplace. His latest interactive, monumental sculpture, “Starstruck”(18′ tall), was completed in June 2018 for Mililani Town Center and bears witness to the area’s reputation as a place to view the stars since ancient times.