Bernice Akamine

Bernice Akamine

Kanaka Maoli
My art is meant to make a statement and preserve cultural knowledge. I am neither an orator nor a writer of well-crafted words. However, there are times when my artwork allows me to speak my beliefs or to stand up and share my voice with those whose voices have been hushed.


A lifelong learner and Kanaka Maoli artist, Bernice Akamine began to pursue her first love, art, later in life than many artists. Akamine chose to raise a family and then return to school. Still living with early memories of community activism surrounding the decades-long fight for self-determination rights of Hawai’i’s Waimanalo Village residents, during her studies at the University of Hawai'i Akamine rediscovered art; deciding that doing what one loves is most important, she changed her major and was awarded a Bachelor of Fine Arts in glass (1994) and a Master of Fine Arts in sculpture and glass (1999). While pursuing her studies at the university, Akamine also studied traditional Hawaiian art forms. Akamine has contributed to many competitive and invitational group exhibitions, as well as solo exhibitions.

Her work is in the permanent collection of the American Museum of Natural History in New York; Peabody Essex Museum in Massachusetts; Hawai’i State Foundation on Culture and the Arts; Portland Art Museum in Oregon; Australian Museum in Sydney; and Queensland Art Gallery/Museum of Modern Art in Australia. Akamine was recipient of a: Golden Hibiscus Honorable Mention Award, Honolulu Biennial 2019, Hawai'i; Artist-in-Residence, Australian Museum, Sydney, Australia, 2018; Cultural Capital Fellowship, First Peoples Fund, South Dakota, 2018; Native Hawaiian Artist Fellowship, Native Arts and Cultures Foundation, 2015; Community Scholar Award, Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of Natural History, 2012.

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