Artist Statement

TIME-SPACE-EXISTENCE – Hawaiian style

 

I started sculpting at age six. Sculpture became my way of expressing what I felt and was beginning to know of the world and the more you sculpt, the more your eyes see around an object, not just see the face but follow the form. This became my way of seeing the expanding world around me. I searched out other sculptors to experience the way they saw and expressed with their hands. Sculpting is seeing beyond words. Even with eyes closed, your hands can sense a shape, like reading Braille in a tongue you never knew before but instinctually comprehend. Through travels in Africa and Polynesia, I connected with native wood carvers. In Europe, everything was a sculpture, a history of sculpture in classic architecture, plazas, churches and fountains that spoke of ancestors walking these same streets creating their visions of the world, leaving legacies of living art. It was a way of being I embraced. What did they do with their Time? How did they inhabit their Space? What did they make of their Existence? They left their footprints here for all to see and follow. My work is a fusion of these experiences inspired by the soul of Hawai’i, my home.

Living many years in Hawai’i, I have learned a different sense of Time. It is not just the supposed slower pace of the island lifestyle, it is the voice of the Aina, the Land, that speaks beyond our perception of Time to a sense of Timelessness. In Hawaiian they speak in reverence of the Aina, but it encompasses so much more than that. With your first conscious breath in the morning, the Air inhales you. The birds wake you and the salt breeze sharpens your awareness. The crash of the waves is like a never ending heartbeat. The mountains and valleys stand like ancient guardians watching over an ageless but ever changing landscape. But beyond the beauty, there is a soul and a history of proud Polynesian ancestors whose spirits still hold sway, whose voices whisper in the wind. Time here is in the moment yet beyond time. Space is felt with one’s feet in the warm earth. Existence is a blessing to be sung with creativity bound in thankfulness. No wonder so many songs and dances of the Hula give praise to the sacred valleys, the mountains, the sea or the beauty of a special flower. What is Time to a place like this? This has changed my life and inspired my art.

This is the spirit that guides my work whether abstract or figurative. It, at its core, is organic but imbued with motion and story like the Hula. It is a dance of subtle gesture in flow, passing on a message without words. Bronze is a cold and inherently static material. The magic is to give it life. What is life but energy and spirit moving through Time and Space? Without movement, would we even exist? I strive to give my art this sense of motion and meaning. I believe in Story because these are the tales of our Existence on this Earth we pass on to others. Behind a good story lies a message, a lesson the Artist has gleaned from his own experience, sung in his voice and shared with the listener. The vocabulary of sculpture is of shape and texture, positive and negative space, repetition and dissonance or even a subtle gesture not unlike a poem but transmitted by light imbued with color. Like life, I leave the story half told and the viewer, in their own interpretation of the piece, completes the picture.

Lately, I’ve been drawn to creating sculptures that encourage the viewers to physically interact with the work. The sense of Space exemplified in Italy’s classic piazzas is truly an inspiration to me. Using my years of experience in construction, landscaping and art installation, when I create a sculpture I am also designing the Space around it. I try to incorporate water, fire, wind or light when possible. When I design for a commission, above all, I listen first to the stories of my client, to their sense of themselves, to the history of the land on which they intend to build and the architectural plans they have made. It is a dialogue and I allow that to percolate within me, distilling all that into one iconic vision, a story in three dimensional Space.

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’x8′) 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 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 also done other private and corporate commissions as well as for the Hawai’i State Foundation on Culture and the Arts. 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 Waikiki Tabora Galleries, Cedar Street Gallery in Honolulu, and Third Dimension at Maunalani on the Big Island.


Sculpting in wood since the age of six, and in bronze since high school, Kim Duffett learned his art and craft directly from artisans in Kenya and in North Africa, in Italy and other European countries, and in Fiji, Vanuatu, the Solomon Islands, and Papua New Guinea.

Duffett has lived and worked in Hawai’i since 1979. Inspired by the “Aina”, the land of Hawai’i, and its ancient and modern cultures, his focus has been on creating contemporary works that reflect Hawai’i’s unique history. Working in various media including bronze, stone, illuminated cast resin and ceramics, his career achievements include several large scale commissioned works for the Hilton Hawaiian Village and other monumental, “gateway” sculptures at public and private locations in Hawaii.

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.