Artist Sean Connelly Fills Gallery With 32,000 lbs of Volcanic Soil and Coral Sand to Create Earth Sculpture in Kaka‘ako



March 4, 2013

Media Contact:

Sarah Honda / 808-277-4484

Marissa Abadir / 808-343-0240


Artist Sean Connelly Fills Gallery With 32,000 lbs of

Volcanic Soil and Coral Sand to Create Earth Sculpture in Kaka‘ako


ART EXHIBITION: A Small Area of Land (Kaka‘ako Earth Room)

WHERE: ii gallery, 687 Auahi Street

DATES: March 22-April 27, 2013

OPENING RECEPTION: Friday, March 22, 5:30-7:30pm

GALLERY HOURS: Tuesday-Friday 7am–6pm and Saturday 11am-5pm





Honolulu, Hawai‘i—Amid ongoing redevelopment construction in Kaka‘ako, Honolulu’s latest “it” neighborhood, Hawai‘i-born, Brooklyn and Honolulu-based designer Sean Connelly is working on his installation A Small Area of Land (Kaka‘ako Earth Room). From March 9-15 he and a team of volunteers are filling the ii gallery (pronounced “two eyes gallery”] with 32,000 pounds of volcanic soil and coral sand to create a temporary earth sculpture.

Connelly will form the sandy soil mixture into a freestanding structure that is seven feet high, nine feet long, and four feet wide. The abstract monolith takes geometry to a new level: starting with a basic rectangular block, the sculpture will feature a single sloping surface that aligns with the position of the sun and moon on a key date in the history of land in Hawai‘i. The exact date and time of this Stonehenge-like moment will be revealed on March 22 at the exhibition opening.

The exhibition title is the definition of the term kuleana, as translated in the Dictionary of Hawaiian Legal Land Terms. Coupled with increasingly contentious perspectives on the future use, development, and management of Hawai‘i’s land and natural resources, A Small Area of Land (Kaka‘ako Earth Room) uses two of Hawai‘i’s most politically charged materials and highly valued commodities (dirt and sand) to comment on the state of its environmental decline. By focusing viewers’ attention on such a monumental expression of this crucial issue, Connelly hopes to help the public focus and redress its thinking and practices; the end goal being the production of a healthy and self-sustainable future-Hawai‘i.

An architect and urban designer, Sean is a graduate of Castle High School and holds a Doctorate in architecture and an undergraduate degree in environmental urban design from the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa, the artist self-identifies as an “interdisciplinary designer.” Connelly selected the installation’s materials because of its ecological significance and cultural relevance in everyday life for everyday people.

A Small Area of Land (Kaka‘ako Earth Room) is an architecturally rendered version and visual art expression of concepts the artist explores in his main research,, a digital book about the future of indigenous and western land systems in Hawai’i that explores the convergence of these two approaches to developing the built environment in a sustainable fashion.

A Small Area of Land (Kaka‘ako Earth Room) is inspired by Walter de Maria’s 1977 minimalist sculpture The New York Earth Room—a 3,600-square-foot interior earth installation presented and maintained by the Dia Art Foundation. The New York Earth Room has been on permanent display at 141 Wooster Street in Manhattan’s SoHo neighborhood since 1980.

“When Sean first moved to New York, he asked for recommendations on must-see art-related sites,” says exhibition curator Trisha Lagaso Goldberg. “I sent him a list of my top 10 and heading up this list was The New York Earth Room. It was a like a treasure hunt. As Sean ‘discovered’ each site on my list, he would capture a photo and post it to Instagram as proof of his captured bounty. We corresponded back and forth as he made his way around the boroughs and eventually struck up a conversation about Walter de Maria’s earth installation. Sean asked what a version of this might look like in Hawai‘i, on Hawai‘i’s terms.”

Through an artist lecture and roundtable discussion, film screening, and end-of-exhibition demolition party, “The sculpture will act as a centerpiece for open dialogue on form, aesthetics, outdoor-indoor spaces, urban-agriculture zoning, and the cultural-ecological-economy of the future Hawaiian City,” says Connelly. “Ultimately, the goal is to reimagine what it means to be urban in Hawai‘i, and how this may fulfill or obscure our expectations for the future of island living.”



Sean Connelly has presented his work through academic and industry conferences, workshops, a Pecha Kucha event at MIT, and, most recently, a TEDx Talk, entitled “Recovering the Technology of Paradise,” which presented the Hawaiian transformation of the watershed into an advanced technology.

Connelly’s background in architecture and urbanism includes work on projects for the Whitney Museum, Hawai‘i State Department of Transportation, and Volume Magazine, an independent quarterly publication co-founded by renowned Dutch architect Rem Koolhaas. His theoretical and conceptual works are grounded with forays into urban activism, civic entrepreneurship, and public art.

Connelly currently works remotely as a research collaborator at C-LAB, an experimental research unit developing new forms of communication in architecture, operating out of Columbia University. He also works as a legislative analyst for the 2013 Hawai‘i State House of Representatives.




Friday, March 22, 5:30-7:30pm

Exhibition opening reception


Wednesday, April 3, 6-8pm

Artist talk and roundtable discussion[SC2]

Participants include Sean Connelly, David A.M. Goldberg (writer and cultural critic, UH Mānoa), and others to be announced


Thursday, April 18, 7-9pm

URBANIZED (USA, 2012, 80m), directed by Gary Hustwit

From the director of the documentaries Helvetica and Objectified, Urbanized is the final part in Gary Hustwit’s compelling trilogy, which presents a critical look at the design of cities


Saturday, April 27, 5:30-7:30pm

Sculpture demolition and closing reception



Interisland Terminal presents an on-going series of programs to explore the intersections of creativity, innovation and leadership, thus paving the way for the creative approaches needed to address the civic and social challenges facing Hawai‘i. Though there are many arts and culture organizations in Honolulu, Interisland Terminal remains unique in its stands for strong curatorial independence, cutting across all media, and with an emphasis on design unfound in existing local organizations. The organization’s creative direction is truly hybrid and international, simultaneously located in Honolulu, Los Angeles, New York, and with a footprint in the Asia-Pacific region and in Europe.


ABOUT ii gallery

ii gallery strives to showcase indigenous and international perspectives, in an effort to deepen the dialogue about the world around us through artists’ visualizations. The gallery’s program is co-curated by Interisland Terminal and Na Mea Hawai‘i. This collaboration is in conjunction with the support of landlord Kamehameha Schools, which is redeveloping the area with an art and culture focus.