The East West Center Art Gallery, on the University of Hawaii campus, has changing exhibits, that focus on the art of Asia and the Pacific. The newest exhibit, opening October 29, 2023, is called, Storyboards of Palau: Artistry, Influence, Impact, The show will run from October 29 to January 7, 2024. 

Over 60 storyboards will be displayed, with boards ranging from the 1940s to the present. The exhibition features storyboards on loan from the Belau National Museum, Bernice Pauahi Bishop Museum, Honolulu Museum of Art, and many private collections.

The show will feature the work of Palau’s original master carvers such as Ngiraibuuch Skedong, Osiik Choterochel, Benadino Rdulaol, Marino Debesol, Antonio Riumd, and Francisco Sbal as well as the modern carvers of today.

The history of the storyboard will be traced, showing the evolution of the art form. Stylistic changes can be seen, from the early colorful boards much like the beams on the traditional bai, to the wood colored, deeply carved boards of today.

Storyboards are a narrative art form unique to Palau, that originated in Palau.  Hijikata Hisakatsu, a Japanese anthropologist and artist who was in Palau in the 1930s, thought of the idea to make the bai beam carvings smaller and portable. 

He formed a guild and organized skilled Palauan’s carvers to make the first storyboards in the style of the traditional bai beams. It is an art form, inspired by the bai, created by Palauans and is the pride of Palau. 

Palauan stories are perpetuated through the storyboards.  Although there are hundreds of Palauan legends, only about 30 are depicted on storyboards today.  And yet each board is different due to carvers expressing themselves in their own individual ways.

Darwin Inabo, as the artist-in-residence during the show, will demonstrate the art of carving a storyboard. The contemporary artwork of Sam Adelbai, Kalany Omengkar, Elsei Tellei, Anthony Watson, and weaver Ruth Truce will also be on display. The exhibit was organized by Annie Reynolds and Margo Vitarelli, co-curators. Eric Chang is the Arts Program Manager.

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