A Search for Ritual and Meaning in Death

When Honolulu contemporary artist and Terasaki Exhibition's Founder & Executive Director, Taiji Terasaki's father died in 2016, he felt untethered. Lacking any strong religious affiliation, Terasaki was unsure how to grieve. He craved a ritual or ceremony that would allow him to contemplate the death as well as to honor and give tribute to the father he loved and revered.

During a visit to his wife's parents in Japan, Terasaki took note of the family's ritual of kneeling before an altar in the tatami room and making a food offering. It made him think of other cultures and the use of vessels and food to commune with the departed.

"I am not sure that I believe we can communicate with the dead, but ceremony allows for a gesture that demonstrates reverence," Terasaki said. "I don't believe we deal well with death in this modern culture. I think it's important for us to have some type of private ritual that gives us as individuals a way to remember and honor our loved ones."

It is from this search for ritual and meaning in death that the idea for Feeding the Immortals was born. Terasaki combined his search for a meaningful response to death with his artistic style of combining mixed-media work. Hosted at Ravizza-Brownfield Gallery in Downtown Honolulu, the exhibition included mixed media works with ceramic, photography, vapor projections (projecting images onto a thin layer of vapor resulting in an ethereal effect), and video performance.

Bringing art with community involvement is part of Terasaki's artistry. For “Feeding the Immortals”, he held two “Ceremonial” performances, the first presided by Kahuna Ka Uhi Keliʻiokalani Makua and the second by a Japanese Tea Master Shigeki Itou. Family and friends were invited to bring a food reminiscent of a deceased loved one and to speak about them. The cathartic experiences at these “Ceremonial” performances will be video-taped (with permission of the guests who attended) form the inspiration of Feeding the Immortals.

This exhibition was the second in a series featuring local artists that Ravizza-Brownfield Gallery plans to feature annually. "The art scene in Hawaii is becoming much more robust and exhilarating," said Shari Brownfield, one of Gallery's founders. "We are thrilled to be able to give space and recognition for Hawaii's contemporary artists."

Hosted by: Terasaki Conservancy

Venue: Ravizza-Brownfield Gallery

Special Thanks to: our participants who bravely paid tribute to their loved ones with honor and grace