Gordon ʻUmialiloaalahanauokalākaua Kai

Native Hawaiian

About

Umi Kai is a master of Native Hawaiian arts, who creates objects used daily by his community in fishing, farming, making kapa, pounding poi, practicing hula and martial arts. Known especially for the weapons he creates, the artist works in bone, wood, shark’s teeth and natural cordage employing pre-colonial techniques and tools.

His work is featured in the collections of the Peabody-Essex Museum in Massachusetts, the Captain Cook Museum in England and Kamehameha Schools and the Bishop Museum in Hawaii. Between graduating high school and completing a degree at Chaminade University, curiosity about Native Hawaiian culture led him to study under respected traditional arts masters of mele (song), hula, throw-net fishing, canoe building, weaponry and lua, Native Hawaiian martial arts. He was a student of kumu John Cummings, Kakhauanu Lake, Makahiwa Lua, Wright Bowman, Sr., Dr. Yoshi Sinoto and Olohe Richard Paglinawan.

Kai is an ’Õlohe lua or martial arts master of the Pā Kui a Lua Association, President of the Aha Kane nonprofit created to better the lives of Native Hawaiian men through cultural practice, and a former President of Bishop Museum’s Association Council. For over 40 years, he has presented his work locally and internationally through workshops, lectures, exhibitions and artist demonstrations.

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