We are happy to introduce you to our good friend Wendeanne Ke’aka Stitt. She is our kapa instructor for The George Kahumoku, Jr.’s 20th Anniversary Slack Key Guitar & Ukulele Workshop.
Wendeanne Ke’aka Stitt is a mother, master textile artist and a maker of Hawaiian kapa cloth who has a 28 year history in the San Francisco Bay Area as a visual display artist. A life-long student of quilts and their makers, especially the Amish, she developed a respect for women whose lives were spent working long days, caring for their families, and creating beautiful quilts.
Stitt is one of the original members of Kuku I Ka Pono – The Kapa Project, a group of Hawaiians and Hawaiians-at-heart who accepted a two-year apprenticeship in 2001 under the tutelage of Dalani Tanahy (Makaha, HI) to learn the ancient art of Hawaiian kapa making with the purpose of creating kapa cloth to use in the traditional Hawaiian burial of bones disturbed in construction and repatriated from museums worldwide. Upon completing her apprenticeship, she continued her study and regularly demonstrates the art of kapa making in public demonstrations and educational forums so that she may share her knowledge and kapa lineage. Her kapa pieces are in collections worldwide.
Recently Wende shared her experiences with us about displaying her work at the 2016 Aloha Festival in San Mateo, CA.
“Fifteen years ago when the Aloha Festival was held on the parade grounds of the Presidio in San Francisco, our group Kuku I Ka Pono was invited to demonstrate kapa making. About half the group showed up and pounded the various stages of kapa to the curious eyes of festival goers. In our group was Kau’i Peralto, our Kumu ‘Olelo and my kapa sister Kaleolani De Sa who worked with PICA (The Pacific Islanders Cultural Association) and the creators of the Aloha Festival to arrange for us to demonstrate what we were learning in our two year kapa making apprenticeship.
Today, Kaleolani De Sa is the President of PICA and teaches kapa making. Kau’i Peralto, who teaches papa ‘olelo at Stanford University, is the coordinator of the Cultural Exhibition and is responsible for quadrupling the number of exhibitors at this years’ festival. And I exhibited the five pa’u hula I made for Kumu Hula Mark Keali’i Ho’omalu of The Academy of Hawaiian Arts (Oakland, CA) in 2014/2015 as part of a Creative Work Fund grant.”
“This crew showed up. And Kainani asked me to explain the kapa making process to them. T i n y little girls and Charles. T i n y little girls and Charles with their t i n y little attention spans. Think fast, woman, and don’t panic because the parents of all these t i n y little girls and Charles are in the background watching you.
So the lecture quickly became a hands-on tutorial with each t i n y little girl and Charles taking their turn at pounding the softened tree bark with the giant hohoa. Some of the t i n y little girls had to hold the hohoa with both of their t i n y little hands. And once they were instructed to beat the bark not with anger like “when they mad at they momma” for not letting them do something they want to do but to pound with love and good thoughts because that is what will go into the kapa they followed one after the other in the sweetest display of pounding wauke I have ever witnessed. At that moment I wanted to take them all home and make them t i n y little kua la’au and t i n y little ‘ie kuku and line them all up and teach them all how to make kapa cloth. I have seen the future and it is the t i n y little girls and Charles and it is all good.”
We are very excited to have Wende at our 20th Anniversary Workshop this year and hope you can join us too. For more information visit us online at kahumoku.com/workshop