search logo

Alum Noah Harders’ ‘Otherworldly' Creations Make It to the Honolulu Museum of Art

Jan. 25, 2023

Like many professionals, Noah Harders’ floral business was hit hard by the pandemic. Little did he know that all the extra time he had on his hands would lead to him getting an offer from the Honolulu Museum of Art to showcase his talents in a full exhibit.

With fewer floral design requests coming in, especially from larger clientele like hotels, Harders, KSM’12, took to Instagram to show off his more artistic work.

“I always had an interest in masks and fashion costumes, so over the past three years — I can’t believe it’s been that long — I started to create all these ideas that have been accumulating in my brain,” Harders said.

The fantastical masks, often crafted from ephemeral materials like flower petals, leaves, or other organic elements, use traditional weaving or feather techniques. Harders saw them as a meld of Native Hawaiian aesthetics with his “otherworldly” imagination.

“When I look at a flower, I don’t just see a plumeria. In my head, I’m imagining them as otherworldly creatures. I’m asking myself, what would this plumeria look like if it existed on another planet,” he said.

Because the materials he’s working with won’t last forever, many of his creations needed to be preserved via photography. That’s where Instagram came in. Then, one thing led to another. Soon he was invited to an art show on Oʻahu through a personal art contact.

“I took this lobster mask I had created. The executive director from the museum was there and she was like, ‘This is really different and interesting.’ Right off the bat she asked if I wanted to have an exhibit. I was stunned,” he said.

Harders recalled attending the state Scholastic Art Awards as a student with Kumu Angie Abe at the Honolulu Museum of Art. “At the time, I was like, what if a young local artist could be displayed here one day alongside the greats? I never imagined it could be me.”

He spent the next six months collaborating with the museum and creating new pieces for his exhibit, Moemoeā. The result, he hopes, “transports people to another world.”

In Harders’ world, Hawaiian feather work, helmets, statues and lauhala weaving are all modernized. “It’s an homage to the traditional ideas and materials of our ancestors, but reimagined for today,” he said.

And while his work is shining on the big stage, Harders hasn’t forgotten his roots. He’ll be here on campus, collaborating with kumu and haumāna on a full installation for this year’s ʻAha Mele. Harders hopes it’s an opportunity to encourage other young artists to dream big.

“I really want young artists to know they don’t need to cut their ideas short. If you think something is too odd or bizarre, do it anyway,” he said. “You can be authentically yourself and successful.”


A multimedia exhibit by Noah Harders, KSM’12

Honolulu Museum of Art
Now through July 27
Included with general admission

Credit: Photo Courtesy Honolulu Museum of Art

ks maui,ʻōiwi leaders,maui campus

Kaipuolono Article, E Ola!, Hawaii Newsroom, Maui Newsroom, KS Maui Home, Maui Athletics, Maui Elementary School, Maui Middle School, Maui High School, Maui Summer School, Outreach, Parents, Community service/volunteer opportunities, Newsroom, Campus Programs, Maui, Alumni, Maui, Oiwi Leaders, Maui campus

Print with photos Print text only