Arts & Culture Archives | Hawaii's First Coworking Space
archive,category,category-arts-culture,category-359,ajax_fade,page_not_loaded,,select-child-theme-ver-1.0.0,select-theme-ver-3.6.1,wpb-js-composer js-comp-ver-5.6,vc_responsive

Atis Puampai

Photograph by Kent Nishimura (


Artist Atis Puampai is focused on observing perceptions of time through the lens of his modified cameras. By taking pictures that display the motion of the earth moving around the sun, Atis uses photography to observe the way humans experience time.  He also takes photos of his surroundings during his daily journey from home to work to focus on the banality of time. Instead of using digital cameras or computer programs to edit his photos, Atis constructs film cameras from recycled camera parts to create his desired effects. His personal philosophy towards his practice is to use any resources you have to observe everything around you. In this vein, Atis taught himself photography by using his friendʻs old camera and learned photo techniques through trial and error. Though Atis has been mostly self-taught, he recently received his Masters in Fine Art (MFA) from the University of Hawaii at Manoa. The MFA program gave Atis a better understanding on how to fully conceptualize his artworks. I asked Atis to sit down with me in the BoxJellyʻs conference room to further discuss his art practice.

Was there a pivotal moment when you decided to follow your passion for art?

Atis: After I graduated from high school one of my friends gave me my first camera and I immediately got hooked. I just kept taking pictures of my buddies, skate friends, and anything in general. I was the typical shutterbug. During that time I took rolls and rolls of film. Everything I know about photography is from trial and error. All the worst things that can happen when you pick up photography happened to me. For instance, I used to load film incorrectly into my camera to the point that I wasn’t able to wind my camera. I had to learn to deal with different light sources without a light meter. I ruined a lot of photos discovering the difference between sunlight and sunlight on a cloudy day. I tend to learn things better when I make mistakes. I also learned a lot from my friends who were photographers. I would show them my photos and they would tell me what was wrong and how to fix them. .


How does the materials you work with inform your art practice?

Atis: Going through the MFA program at UH really taught me to be critical on my thoughts towards photography and my process for creating photos. For example, when people take pictures they say “Iʻm going to shoot a photo.” I remember my old photography professor would say “Its not shooting photos, you’re not capturing the images. You’re making pictures by collecting information around you.” So the whole idea of photography for me is about observation and collection. My artistic vision comes second to the observation. Also, I’m always trying to figure out how I can keep things simple and work with materials I already have. I create photos from cameras that I craft from salvaged camera equipment. One comment I got when someone saw my modified cameras was “Itʻs like seeing a caveman discover photography for the first time.” I took that comment and thought, how do I move through the history of photography using  my intuition? I make my cameras and “discover” various camera effects and craft my camera to achieve desired effects. In the act of making I often wonder do I need a shutter or other basic functions to bring my ideas into reality.


What ideas are you exploring with your art?

Atis: Iʻm exploring different perceptions of time. For my project titled “Earth at 970 mph” I took photos of the sun to show the earth in motion in relation to the sun. The sun is something that is constant and anybody can locate. We watch it rise and fall everyday. However, we rarely think about the motion and the rate we are moving around the sun. As the sun stays the same, we humans are moving and evolving. This calls into question our human significance. I took these photos at Mauna Kea. Mauna Kea is monumental and a specific location. Iʻm also trying to find the magic of being at Mauna Kea in my everyday routine. I take photos of my route from home to work. By taking pictures of my daily route, Iʻm also exploring the mundaneness of time.

What is your work flow for doing art and how do you project manage

Atis: My workflow is sporadic. I go on these spurts where I work everyday. It’s like pringles. Once you start you can’t stop eating them but once your done you can go a long time without pringles. While working on a photo series I try to explore numerous ways to approach the concepts I’m interested in at the time. Once I feel like I have said everything I can about the concepts, that is when I known a photo series is completed.

What does it mean to be an artist in Hawaii?

Atis: Being an artist in Hawaii has made me very resourceful. Hawaii is in the middle of the ocean and has a very iconic location. Hawaii also has a strong connection to the themes of an idyllic paradise and tourism. As an artist I take it as a challenge to create photographs in Hawaii with concepts that can be applied anywhere.


Is there a piece you would like to be known for?

Atis: I would like to be known for my concept of exploring different perceptions of time and my modified cameras. My thesis series “Project: ANCIENT LIGHT” focuses on the fact that the light coming from the sun is 10,000 to 100,000 years old. The light that the earth receives now is older then all of written human history. With “Project: ANCIENT LIGHT” I’m exploring time past our human experience.

Do you have a favorite book, film or artist, which inspires you?

Atis: Artist Hiroshi Sugimoto is a big inspiration. He’s a photographer and he also explores the themes of time and space. His work is super polished.  I see him as a foil as I work the other way; really rough and raw. Stylistically, my photographs are inspired by Sugimoto. Sugimoto lets the concepts of the work take over so what visually comes out is purely the concept.

Have you ever doubted your art practice?

Atis: I have always doubted my art practice. I believe there will always be doubt. Anyone who is a creative, musician, or artist will doubt their practice at some point. I feel like I’ve done my best work when I felt the most doubtful. If your so sure of the work you create it might be too formulaic. If I doubt my work but I’m honest with it, I think people will be able to at least resonate with what I create.

What advice would you give to an inspiring artist?

Atis: Get ready to struggle, but as artists we will struggle together.

Check at more of Atis Puampaiʻs artwork at


06/023/2017.  Seven second exposure. Elapsed time: 0 min.

30″x40″. Archival Pigment Print from Fujifilm FP-100C Instant Picture.


BoxJelly x Fishcake Artist in Residence: Call for Artists Spring 2019




DEADLINE: January 11, 2019

Since 2011, Box Jelly has functioned as a collaborative workspace for a diverse set of professionals. Our mission is to provide a carefully curated physical space that cultivates and enriches our communities. As a coworking space, we understand the importance of a dedicated work area. This is why we’re opening up our resources to upcoming artists.

The Box Jelly/ Fishcake Artist in Residence Program is a development platform for those transitioning into professional artists. We intend to accomplish this by providing ample studio space, utilities and a supportive community of like-minded art professionals to foster resident artist’s creativity.


We are now accepting proposals for BoxJelly+Fishcake Artist in Residence (AiR), a 6-month opportunity to create new work for a solo exhibition in Honolulu, Hawaii in the heart of Kaka’ako, an urban neighborhood with proximity to the beach, shops, restaurants, bars and local events.

We’re looking for bright, enterprising creatives who work in contemporary art practices and forms with big ideas and the ambition to execute them.


The six-month residency runs from February 1st 2019 with culminating show to be presented in August 2019.


The residency includes:

  • A workspace (a clean studio space suitable for artists and designers working in digital arts, video, photography, illustration, fiber arts and textile design).
  • A solo exhibition at The BoxJelly, the premier co-working space for urban creatives in Hawaii! We will provide press, marketing and hosting costs of the opening reception. All sales from the exhibition go directly to the artist.
  • BoxJelly Dedicated Studio membership (a $4000 value).
  • Creative mentoring with the BoxJelly and Fishcake team.
  • A one-on-one portfolio review with Fishcake Art Curator Keiko Hatano.
  • Consultation with Fishcake Co-Founder and Chief Creative Maura Fujihira and Fishcake Showroom Manager Cassie Louie on selling artwork and design products.
  • An opportunity to earn a spot on Fishcake’s roster of local and international artists and designers.  Fishcake sells artists’ work in two retail locations, as well as direct to homeowners and businesses through their interior design studio, Fishcake Works.

The residency does not include exhibition costs, artist stipend, transportation or housing. We cannot offer a visa for international applicants.


Submissions must include:

  • The application form
  • Project proposal: 1-2 pages in length, outlining a plan to create a body of work to enhance BoxJelly’s space. Include a detailed list of techniques, materials, and outlining project logistics.
  • Artist’s CV
  • Digital zip file containing 5-10 samples of your most recent work with an inventory sheet
  • Artist Statement
  • Other Supportive Material (optional)


Please email your application and materials to 


DEADLINE: January 11, 2019


Artists in Residence, in Conversation: A Recap





Last Wednesday, in collaboration with Fishcake, the BoxJelly kicked off a fun evening of raffle prizes and info-packed conversation with its inaugural artist in residence, Amelia Samara and Laurie Sumiye, our second artist in residence and newly appointed coordinator of the program. Through this presentation- style conversation, audience members learned more about this unique opportunity and what it takes to become our next artist in residence.


The two artists started by introducing themselves: Amelia grew up in many places, a factor which she attributes to shaping her work and interests. She remarked that while in school, there was perhaps a disproportionate amount of emphasis on the conceptual aspect of art while very little to no attention on the business side.  After graduating with BFA in Fiber Arts from University of Hawai’i, she tried to grapple with how to actually make a living as an artist coming from a background where “making beautiful art for the sake of just making beautiful art is not encouraged.”


Born and raised in Mililani, Laurie Sumiye took an 18 year hiatus from the islands until returning to the Big Island where she began a documentary focused on an endangered native Hawai’ian bird called the Palila. During her time away from Oahu, she pursued an undergraduate degree in Art and Communication, worked in web design and advertising, and then earned a filmmaking degree at Hunter College.






Both artists agreed that this residency provides the unique opportunity to understand the professional side of your career as an artist. With a very supportive network of people from both the BoxJelly and Fishcake, you will have people to talk to and bounce ideas off of. The program provides a chance to explore and develop your practice, but also works within a mindset that reassures you that it is okay to create something to sell. Amelia commented that it was a pretty intuitive process, which she entered without knowing exactly what she wanted to do, although artists are required to submit a proposal as part of the application process. While Laurie noted that the program helped keep her on track, by setting deadlines (now 3 months, instead of 6) it also helped her engage with an audience, and connect what she is interested in with a local audience. She now feels that she is at a point where where her art making is a sustainable career, and left the audience with a statement: “It’s possible to live in Hawai’i, to make a living doing what you love *and living in Hawai’i*. You don’t have to go somewhere else, and there’s support for what you do [here], that was my biggest revelation.”


Applications are due June 15 at midnight. More information about the program can be found here.


The event was live streamed on Facebook, watch now:  link:


Below is an outline that highlights the types of questions asked in the conversation and by the audience along with it’s corresponding times in the live stream recording:


14:40 — What was the process like of having an exhibition at the BoxJelly and the selling work at Fishcake?


18:30 — The most surprising thing?


22:40 — What’d you do after the residency and how did it help you move forward in your practice?


24:50 — Did you find that in being in this space, in this community, affected your art at all?


28:24 — Tension between commercial aspect of selling vs. conceptual, conversation-sparking art. Is there one?


29:39 —How Laurie chose birds as her subject.


36:39 —What would be useful to know for applying if you had not done this before? Whats required of the artists?


43:00 — Lessons learned as program alumnae. If you could do things differently knowing what you do now, what would you do differently?


48:09—Pricing work?


Solo Exhibition by Artist in Resident Amelia Samari

Same Same But Different

Amelia Samari

September 15 – March 10



“Same Same But Different” is a body of work completed over a six month Artist in Residence by fiber artist, Amelia Samari. Commonly used to trick consumers into buying counterfeits, the phrase “Same Same But Different” means something is functionally or aesthetically the same as something else but differs in methods of implementation or minor details. As this concept applies to the body of work, the figures displayed bear a strong resemblance to the bags and baskets that Samari makes and sells yet they do not serve as functional vessels. By removing the original functionality from the vessels while maintaining a similar aesthetic, utility takes second to form, thus forcing the viewer to decide what what the objects represent.READ MORE


Function Follows Form

I find myself coming back again and again to the vessel, asking myself why I am attracted to it. I’ve always been curious of the functional side of art making. I’ve also enjoyed the process of making vessels that get everyday use; artwork that is not just displayed on a wall or placed on a shelf but rather artwork that is integrated into one’s life. READ MORE


On Creative Inspiration

I’ve been out of the country for the last five weeks, and for five weeks I have drifted in and out of the frustration of not being in my studio and not having access to my sewing machine. Traveling through Europe, I found myself surrounded by an abundance of beauty and with every step, trying, almost desperately, to find a source of inspiration. READ MORE


The Crossroads between Utility and Art

When I come across someone who may be interested in buying one of my baskets, they often ask: “what do I use them for?” I always find this question interesting. Generally, I answer with “whatever you want.” If my first answer doesn’t seem to please them, I follow with something comical like “keys, pens, TV remotes, phones, jewelry, decoration”. READ MORE


Amelia Samari, Artist Residency

As one of the fasting growing trends among millennials, coworking spaces provide a number of attractive features that puts it miles ahead of the conventional office. Here, at BoxJelly, we are fully aware of this. We also know that there aren’t easy solutions or turn key packages to creating a cohesive community. We put a lot of time and energy into thinking about ways of engaging not only with the physical space but the social space around us.READ MORE