Five Native Hawaiians have been selected as fellows by the Native Arts and Cultures Foundation, which will allow them to develop new works or complete projects already in progress. The foundation named a total of 20 Artist Fellows for 2018.

Only 0.2 percent of all national arts funding reaches Native artists each year, according to the foundation, which created the fellowship initiative to provide financial support for artists and increase their recognition and visibility in national and international arenas. The fellowships include unrestricted monetary awards of $20,000 to work on identified projects for one year. The fellows will also work with the community and share their culture through a variety of means.

“We are so pleased to honor so many Native artists in both the contemporary and traditional art forms this year. This is the most that we have offered in awards. The increase exemplifies a farther reach for us into new states and tribes, as we are always trying to reach as many artists and tribes as we can for this National award,” Native Arts and Cultures Foundation Director of Programs Francene Blythe, Diné/Sisseton-Wahpeton/Eastern Band Cherokee said in a release.

The 2018 fellows from Hawai‘i are master weaver Pōhaku Kaho‘ohanohano, filmmaker Ciara Leina‘ala Lacy, fiber artist Marques Hanalei Marzan, singer/songwriter Kalani Pe‘a and slack key guitarist Jeff Peterson.

Artistic Innovation

Ciara Leina‘ala Lacy’s directorial debut “Out of State,” shines a light on Hawaiians incarcerated in a private Arizona prison. The documentary has been screened at film festivals and will be broadcast on PBS’s “Independent Lens” this year. Lacy’s next project, “The Ninth Land,” examines economic inequities that force Native Hawaiians to leave their homeland.

David Kahalewai works to reconnect with his daughter over prayer, from the documentary film “Out of State.” – Photo: Chapin Hall

Traditional Arts

Master weaver Pōhaku Kaho‘ohanohano of Makawao began weaving after discovering his ‘ohana’s weaving lineage, and learned the art form from seven masters. Committed to preserving the traditional Hawaiian practice, Kaho‘ohanohano works and teaches out of his studio in Kahakuloa.

Fiber artist Marques Hanalei Marzan is dedicated to revitalizing kōkō pu‘upu‘u, the art of rope and cordage vessels. Through public presentations, demonstrations and workshops, Marzan passes the lessons from noted experts, including master weavers Julia Minerva Ka‘awa and Esther Kakalia Westmoreland, as he bridges traditional knowledge and modern innovation.


Singer-songwriter Kalani Pe‘a of Wailuku, whose debut album “E Walea” won both a Nā Hōkū Hanohano award and a Grammy award, was awarded a fellowship for his work celebrating ‘ōlelo Hawai‘i and his Hawaiian heritage through music and visual arts. Pe‘a, a graduate of Ke Kula ‘o Nāwahīokalani‘ōpu‘u, uses millennial innovation to share his traditional roots.

Slack key guitarist and composer Jeff Peterson, winner of eight Nā Hōkū awards and two Grammys, was recognized for his commitment to documenting the kī ho‘alu tradition for future generations. As an educator, the solo artist works with fellow musicians and regularly visits schools and libraries to train guitarists and inspire youth.

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