Since the 1980s I have been deconstructing and restoring tapa (Polynesian bark cloth) originally made in Tonga by the late Emalata Tu'a Kaufusi and her family.

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To make tapa, the inner bark of the mulberry tree is pounded until it becomes a paper-like fabric. This laborious process is shared by many women working together. The finished cloth has several layers glued with starch from the same plants, which are specially grown for this procss.

 

After separating the layers and cleaning them, I use the tapa as a substrate for inks and dyes, which are absorbed and embedded within the layers of the cloth.

Kaanapali, 2017, 23"h x 40"w, tapa, sumi ink.