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Artist in Residence: Thad Higa

BoxJelly is is proud to announce Thad Higa as the BoxJelly + Fishcake Artist in Residence for the Spring 2019 cycle.

Thad Higa is a writer and multimedia zine and book artist based in Honolulu. He graduated from Seattle University with a BA in creative writing. He started Tiny Zine Hawaii in 2017, a project of collaborative, and experimental zines. Higa is currently working to open HIZAB Library, an alternative zine and book library in Chinatown, Oahu which houses specially curated books, artist books, poetry and zines from all over.


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


Artist-in-Residence Blog


Artist residencies come in many forms, including short/long, formal/informal, near/far.  While I didn’t think I’d explore this form of professional development with a young family, my family (and the village it takes to raise a family) has been incredibly supportive of my endeavors, whether near or far.   During this, my fifth artist residency, one of the first things I’ve learned is that programs don’t need to take you to far corners of the earth for the experience to be enriching.

I was delighted to learn of this BoxJelly program when Amelia Samari was the inaugural resident artist.  The setting, the flexibility, and the amenities were all appealing and I was itching to apply, but I knew I couldn’t until a few other things were sorted out in my calendar.  At that time I was still waiting to see if my friend/dive buddy/collaborator Kirsten Carlson and I would be going Antarctica to participate in a distant art program… Fast-forward to today and we’re back from Antarctica and here I am at BoxJelly, making works inspired by that experience! 


Even though the BoxJelly is very close to my home and I’ve been visiting fishcake for most of its decade of operation, the setting and scenario are proving to be just what I need at this moment.  Many of the people who make up the Box Jelly and fishcake ‘ohana are familiar to me, yet through this experience I am getting to know them in meaningful new ways, deepening the community connections.  The workspace is a venue I saw my predecessors customizing for their needs and now it is similarly accommodating mine.


My art background is inextricably linked to science.  As a college student in the early ‘90s with a full schedule of science coursework, I did drawings as a way to learn the various anatomies of my subjects.  The drawings caught the attention of a professor who hired me as a science illustrator in his research lab, thus beginning my SciArt career. Since then I’ve illustrated lots of life forms in a range of media.  

After becoming a parent I realized the need to find a more family-friendly art medium, and fiber fit the requirements, launching my explorations in 3D.  Wool, wire, and paper are now my primary materials and I am exploring new means of expression through them. Building on the works I exhibited in the 2017 Honolulu Biennial, I’m looking forward to seeing what manifests here.

– Michelle

Learn more about Michelle’s work HERE


Meet the 2018 BoxJelly + fishcake Artists-in-Residence!

Spring 2018 Artist-in-Residence Michelle Schwengel-Regala

Our Spring 2018 AiR is science illustrator and fine artist Michelle Schwengel-Regala, of Mililani, Hawaii. Michelle creates diverse projects including technical science renderings, information graphics, sculptures, and community art initiatives. The common thread is that her art tells stories about science. She presented her work at the 2017 Honolulu Biennial, Hawai‘i Handweavers’ Hui, and CONTACT. Michelle’s past residencies include the Artist-in-Resident program at the Bishop Museum, Artist­-at­-Sea Program with Schmidt Ocean Institute, and National Science Foundation Antarctic Artists & Writers Program. 


Read more about Michelle and her work HERE



Summer 2018 Artist-in-Residence Jane Chang Mi

Our Summer 2018 AiR is Jane Chang Mi, an ocean engineer and artist based out of Honolulu and Los Angeles. Her works consider land politics and post-colonial ecologies. Exploring the narratives associated with environment through her interdisciplinary research-based work, she aims to express our contemporary relationship to nature. Jane has exhibited both nationally and internationally, most recently at Emily Carr University in Vancouver, Canada, Honolulu Biennial, and Beaconsfield Contemporary Art in London. She was a visiting artist at the National Gallery in Amman, Jordan, sponsored by START House and Art Dubai, and a scientist on the Arctic Circle Program departing Spitsbergen, Norway. Jane currently teaches at Pepperdine University in Malibu, CA.


Read more about Jane and her work HERE



Aloha & Mahalo, Nanci!

A huge  “Congratulations” to our Summer 2017 Resident, Nanci Amaka! Her opening of MOTHER on January 11th was an incredible success, and we were blown away by her beautiful, poignant images and words. We will miss your warm spirit and gracious energy, Nanci! Best of luck with your future endeavors!


For more information about Nanci, click HERE


MOTHER will be up at the BoxJelly until April 27, 2018. With her mother as muse, Honolulu-based artist Nanci Amaka explores the anxieties surrounding concepts of love, loss, embodiment, and letting go with a new series of work. Amaka’s artistic process involved re-enacting memories and metaphysical childhood visions of her mother, an intimate performance of dealing with her death and release of her lifelong search for answers.  







Artist-in-Conversation with Nanci Amaka & Andrew Binkley


Artist-in-Conversation Event with Nanci Amaka + Andrew Binkley @ BoxJelly

Monday, December 18 2017

6-8PM at BoxJelly


Box Jelly + Fishcake present the second “Artists in Conversation” talk, all about artists talking to each other about what they love doing!  


Please join us, our current artist-in-residence, Honolulu-based conceptual artist Nanci Amaka, and multi-disciplinary Oʻahu based-artist Andrew Binkley. They will talk about Nanci’s latest body of work entitled, “Mother” created during her residency. (Some of the videos from Nanci’s upcoming exhibition were created in collaboration with Andrew.) Together as art collective Stargaze, they engage in artmarking which “intersect the principles of omnipresent agency with transcendental capacity.”


Nanci and Box Jelly + Fishcake staff will be on hand after the presentation to answer questions about artists interested in applying for the next round of Box Jelly + Fishcake Artist-in-Residence Program, for Spring, Summer and Fall 2018.


Box Jelly and Fishcake deepens its commitment to supporting emerging artists and diversifying the platforms through which the public is invited to engage and gain greater insight to the seminal program that offers a supportive community of like-minded art professionals to foster artists’ creativity and career development.


Nanci Amaka:

Nanci Amaka is the current Box Jelly + Fishcake Artist-in-Residence, based in Honolulu, Hawaii. Nanci’s work explores ideas surrounding trauma, identity, memory and the liminal space between experience and language. Working from the theory that traumatic events challenge perceptions of power, autonomy, and identity. Her performances are poetic narratives of memory retrieval & inspection that investigate limits of vulnerability & social empathy, by creating charged contemplative experiences. Nanci received a BA in Visual Critical Studies from The School of the Art Institute of Chicago, and an MFA from California College of the Arts. Nanci was born in Nigeria and spent her formative years in a rural rainforest village in south eastern Nigeria. She is now based in Honolulu.


Andrew Binkley:

Andrew Binkley is an American artist based in Oʻahu, Hawaii. Andrew’s work uncovers and examines notions of time and stages of transformation towards awakening and letting go. He studied art at the Kansas City Art Institute, and Buddhism at a monastery in Thailand. His art practice acts as a reflection on the relationship of arising and passing away, as well as one’s own relationship with impermanence, by inviting a shift into acceptance and appreciation. Andrew exhibited internationally with The Kaohsiung Museum of Fine Arts (Taiwan), the Downtown Film Festival (Los Angeles), the Queens Museum of Art (New York), Shanghai Zendai Museum of Modern Art (China), and the Honolulu Biennial (Honolulu).


Artist-in-Residence Program FAQs

Artist-in-Residence Laurie Sumiye (left)

You’ve Got Questions About the BoxJelly/fishcake Artist-in-Residence Program. We’ve Got Your Answers


How do I apply for the BoxJelly+fishcake Artist-in-Residence program?

To apply for the Artist-in-Residence Program, jump over here and submit an application by December 31st 2017!


What are the dates for next season’s Artist-in-Residence Program?

We are currently accepting applications for all terms through midnight on December 31, 2017 for the following terms:

Spring (February 1 – April 30, 2018)

Summer (May 1 – Aug 30, 2018)

Fall (September 1 – November 30, 2018)


Who will be deciding on the submissions?BoxJelly Artist-in-Residence Amelia Samari

All applications will be evaluated by a panel of creatives from BoxJelly and fishcake.


Is there a fee to apply?



Is there an artist’s stipend?

Nope, sorry; however,  you do get a terrific space.


How big is the space?

About ~150 sq ft or so.


What do you mean by “clean studio space”?

It does not refer how neat you are! The larger space is shared with designers and peeps who work on computers, so this means no painting, wet media, or materials that give off toxic fumes.


What is the age requirement to be a resident?BoxJelly Artist-in-Residence Nanci Amaka

Residents must be 18 years or older.


What hours can we work on our projects?

Residents have 24/7 access to the space.


Is there a minimum weekly time commitment at BoxJelly? Am I allowed to travel while in Hawaii?

In order to make the best of this opportunity, we recommend that residents work from BoxJelly at least four days per workweek. Residents are expected to manage their time and workflow to ensure they are able to meet program milestones, but travel is absolutely encouraged!


Art by BoxJelly Artist-in-Residence Laurie Sumiye

Do I need to be a U.S. citizen to apply?

We accept applications from many countries around the world, and are working at broadening our program all the time. If you are outside the United States and are interested in a residency, please contact us and we will do our best to accommodate you.


Does the residency program provide residents with visas?

The Artist-in-Residence program does not provide residents with visas, so residents must arrange their own visas and should enter the United States as visitors. We can, however, provide residents with an invitation letter describing the nature of the relationship that the Artist-in-Residence has with us and explain the reason for the visit. We’ve found that these letters can be useful for residents when entering the U.S., but are in no way intended to replace a visa.


Do you provide residents with transportation to Hawaii?

No. Residents must make their own transportation arrangements to and from O’ahu, Hawaii.


Where should I stay during my residency, and how should I get there?

We do have one shared studio apartment that is available for our residents to rent; otherwise, our residents coordinate their own travel arrangements and accommodations. Please arrange your housing and travel well in advance, or budget accordingly to stay in temporary accommodations (hotel or hostel) upon your arrival. You might consider visiting or to find temporary housing or sublets.


How can I contact the organizer with any questions?

Give us a call M-F 8am – 8pm (808)769-6921 or email us! For additional details, please see our Call for Artist-in-Residence Applications



Deadline Extended for Artist-in-Residence 2018 Applications


Apply now for our 2018 BoxJelly+Fishcake Artist-in-Residence (AiR) Program, an opportunity to create new work for a solo exhibition in Honolulu, Hawaii in the heart of Kaka’ako. 




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

Spring Term starts February 1 – April 30, 2018.

Summer Term starts May 1 – Aug 30, 2018.

Fall Term starts September 1 – November 30, 2018.

Each 3-month residency includes:

  • A “clean” studio space suitable for artists working in digital arts, video, photography, illustration, fiber arts and textile design. We cannot accommodate painting, woodworking or ceramics.
  • 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 $1500 value).
  • 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, and 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. For visiting artists, we may be able to offer temporary lodging, pending availability.

Step 1: Apply Here

Step 2: Email materials below to laurie (at)

Submissions must include:

  • 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 and materials, outlining project logistics, supply and labor needs, and budget
  • 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)

For additional information, please see our Artist-in-Residence Program FAQs or join us at our Artist-in-Conversation event on December 18th to learn more about our program from current resident Nanci Amaka.




Life Inspired Art

I began to sincerely make work about vulnerable elements of my own life after a studio visit with a close friend of mine, Zina.  At that time, Zina had been making work about her father and his friends’ lives in Iraq when they were in their youth. Utilizing old photographs and narratives from her father, the paintings were vibrant, and intriguing. Most of all, they radiated an endearment that was palpable. Standing in Zina’s studio that evening, we began to naturally talk about our lives and the inherent inspiration we garner from our experiences as women who’ve had to flee our home countries for relative safety in the USA. In the middle of this conversation, as she is wont to do, Zina turned to me and gave me the very heartfelt criticism that I should begin to make work that was primarily about significant moments in my life.

For a very long time, I made work that was inspired a bit by my experiences but was mainly about the lives of people and refugees I interviewed. Although these works were in line with topics I was interested in: memory, trauma, identity, and sensory-to-language translation; they did not speak directly about my own experiences. Instead, offering others a space to speak about their own experiences, acted as a sort of buffer to having to address my own history or translate my experiences. In Zina’s studio that evening in Oakland, her statement acted as a mirror to my thoughts. I had been thinking about the exact same thing, but hesitating from fear of vulnerability. Sometimes, all you need to make a decision, is a loved one holding a mirror up to you. In my case, the conversation with Zina was exactly the push I needed.

Today, I am working on series of works about momentous experiences that shaped my life.  For my residency at Box Jelly and Fishcake, the main concept is ‘Motherhood’. The root of this is in the early loss of my mother to an act of violence.  The sprout of this is my recent pregnancy. In the first month of my residency at Box Jelly and Fishcake, I had planned already to make work about my mother: my memories of her, the pain of losing her to violence, and letting go of the power it’s held over me. Then I learned I was pregnant, and suddenly it became more imperative to do this work now.

The Artist’s Mother

Looking back, what made Zina’s paintings of her father and his childhood friends endearing wasn’t just the colors, or line-work of the paintings. It was also the emotional connection of Zina to the subjects, their memories, and a deep longing for a home loved and lost to time and circumstance. The pieces I am making about my mother will neither recreate her, nor come close to fully defining who she was. By exploring the fragments of her that I still have with me: memories of her singing to me, lifting me to her hips, moving around my grandmother’s yard. Memories of running up to her, burying myself in her skirts, hugging her legs. As well as elusive memories of the moments surrounding her death. I hope to build an exhibit that, as a whole, will give a sense of what she meant to me and the implications of a life lived under the shadow of loss.


Sandalwood and Memory of Place

My time here at Box Jelly and Fishcake has continued to be inspiring. During a meeting last month with collaborators to discuss an upcoming performance, I ran the concept by Maura Fujihira. She immediately had two simple questions that completely changed the direction of the work. The piece I was working on, Cleanse, is a performance of an act of mourning that involved me cleaning and washing a space in Ward Warehouse, as a final act of nurture and gratitude before it would be torn down. Maura asked: “What soap will you be using?” and “What will you be wearing?” In that moment, I had assumed that what I would be wearing would be something white but hadn’t thought beyond that.  I also wasn’t confident in my decision for a dress.  I discussed my options with Maura and was much more confident in my choice at the end.

In terms of the soap, I had originally thought that I would use an African Black Soap I had procured from a natural product shop in Nigeria the last time I was there.  My reasoning for this was that the piece, Cleanse was a way for me to mourn my mother who passed away in Nigeria when I was a child. While describing the decision to Maura, I recognized that I felt no particular connection to the soap itself aside from the fact that it was from a shop in Nigeria. I didn’t immediately decide to change the soap, but it stayed in the back of mind. It was a very important part of the performance and as such, it was important that it also had a strong connection to the piece itself. That night, the conversation with Maura came to mind again. She is quite intuitive and sensitive in an ethereal way. Something about her choice of the question lingered. I fell asleep that night thinking that I needed better intention in the decision of the soap used for Cleanse.

The next day, my videographers and I went on a site visit of the space to plan the performance.  After our meeting, I mindfully strolled about all of Ward Warehouse to prepare myself for the performance. Lost in thought towards the very end of my walk, I came upon Island Soap & Candle Works. Walking in, I met the owners and their lovely young adult children, Kimo and Tiare. Both had grown up knowing the family business in Ward Warehouse. They told me of the countless hours they spent as children in the space watching their parents work. Tiare had no memories of the family business not being located in Ward Warehouse. Both expressed feeling sad about the closing of the space but also looked forward to the next phase of the business they had watched their parents build and were themselves also helping develop. The family not only sold soaps and candles in the space; they also created their products in the back of the Ward Warehouse space. Kimo and Tiare showed me the new series of soaps they were working on – beautiful decadent pieces carefully crafted from a complex combination of soaps that rivaled pastries in any French patisserie. It was apparent that they loved what they did and unmistakable that they grew up working in the field. I decided at that moment to describe my project to them and ask for a recommendation on a soap.

Sandalwood – ‘iliahi in Hawaiian – has a strong influence on the history of Hawaii. Six high-quality species of the tree once grew so abundantly on the islands that the Chinese referred to the Hawaiian Islands as the Sandalwood Mountains. Through the foreign trade of Sandalwood – Hawaii’s first major export – King Kamehameha I was able to procure weapons in which to aid in his conquering and unifying of the islands. That trade lasted between 1790 and 1825. On August 1st, 2017, I bought two barsof Cedar Sage Sandalwood soap from Island Soap & Candle Works at the suggestion of local soap makers, Kimo and Tiare. Both bars were made in Ward Warehouse. They were made of natural ingredients, had a neutral aesthetic, and carried a beautiful faint fragrance of sandalwood.  I used one of them in my performance of Cleanse on August 2nd, 2017 to scrub the walls and floors of Ward Warehouse. I intend to use the second bar in a second performance at BoxJelly + Fishcake during my exhibit. As this second piece develops, I will share more.

Nanci Amaka



Settling Into The Space

My time here at BoxJelly and Fishcake has so far, been very productive in many unexpected ways.  As a conceptual artist working with the challenging concepts of trauma, memory, and identity, I was unsure of what would come from my time here at a co-working space and interior design organization.  I must say that I have been thoroughly impressed with: the counsel I have received, the space itself, and the freedom to explore and build on my concepts.

My first interaction with BoxJelly and Fishcake was during their introduction of the Artist In Residence (AIR) program at the Artist In Conversation (AIC) Q&A talk. After the Q&A, I was able to tour the space, and get my bearings of what it could allow in terms of art production. I also met several of the creatives already working there. In my initial proposal, I had intended to develop ‘Sensoria’ – a series I have been working on that centers around the concept of paradoxically translating sensory information. During my interview with Laurie Sumiye, and Keiko Hatano, they encouraged me to continue working on my performances as that was what I really wanted to work on.  Although it wasn’t immediately clear how I could translate performance work into their space, nor exhibit it after my residency, I was encouraged to do the work anyway as it was interesting and relevant.  I was, and am still, very grateful for their trust in my work and concepts.

I began my residency in July and have been very happy with it.  The AIR space is located in the inner sections of Fishcake and provides ample space to work; including a gorgeous large work table, ample storage and quite a bit of privacy. It resembles a studio and I immediately felt at ease creating a dry ‘mess’. The residency also comes with 24-hour access which comes in handy when I have to come in at odd hours to work. I will say though, that my favorite part of the space is the ability to meet with several collaborators and teams to discuss projects I am working on. In those cases, it is very easy to buy them coffee at Morning Glass and then settle in at a communal table and meet in a professional setting away from the mess of my studio table.

I am curious and excited about what the rest of my time here at Box Jelly + Fishcake will yield. The counsel I have received as well as the artistic freedom to develop my work has been generous and I am very grateful for it.  I have been able to work as I usually do – intuitively and open to nuance, while maintaining a discipline of concept. I cannot say that I am surprised to find that I have been able to work this way here; as I had no clear expectations.  But I will say that I am thoroughly enjoying the experience.

Nanci Amaka