The interaction of great artists with their chosen medium is the stuff of lore and not a little mystical. Michelangelo spoke of seeing the figure in a block and carving away stone to free it. Similarly, Hawaiian artist Hoaka Delos Reyes is quoted as saying about his learning of the craft, “The stone started to shape me, not the other way around.” It all started many years ago when his son asked him to make a stone poi pounder for him, an easy request for a man who was a builder in stone and cement. Then came the condition, his son wanted it to be genuine, made the old way, no modern tools. What followed is related in the article, “The Stone Caller” by Shannon Wianecki in the February/March issue of Hana Hou!, the inflight magazine of Hawaiian Airlines.
It is the story of a man responding to a calling, for Hoaka soon found there was only one man who knew the old way of working stone, George Fujinaga, a crusty old stone carver who looked askance at young men who naively wished to learn the art in a weekend. It proved to be a schooling of many years. That meant learning the types of stones, learning to recognize their spirits, learning how to work them and with them, how to “listen to them”, how to call to them and hear their answer. In the process the artist comes to know himself as well.
The day came when the apprentice’s skill exceeded his master’s. Not long after that, George passed away, but not before asking his wife to tell Hoaka that “he had been waiting for you all his life. Now he can go to sleep, knowing that you will carry on the work.” It is an inspiring story of diligence, faith, and hard work. Read more at the following links: