Anniversary Edition now available.

The fine art photography of Kim Taylor Reece

Two Hundred Years of Hula:
A Contemporary View

Rick Carroll

Since the first Europeans set foot in polynesia, tawny maidens in grass skirts have, along with palm trees and white sand beaches, created the worldwide vision of paradise.

Many artists, beginning with British engravers aboard Captain James Cook’s “Discovery” and “Resolution,” have tried to capture the gracious dance, known as the hula, in every medium: pen and ink, watercolor, oil, and since the late 1800’s, in photographs.
One artist, Kim Taylor Reece, has succeeded in bringing the past alive in his contemporary sepia toned images of the ancient hula of Hawaii.

No other photographer of hula has captured the historic dance with such exacting style, including accuracy of dance, costume, expression, setting and sensuality.

His limited edition originals of the ancient Hawaiian hula are in private collections and galleries across the United States and Europe. His art prints are best sellers.

A master of archival photography, Kim Taylor Reece accomplished this goal by researching the hula for twenty years in Hawaii’s Bernice Pauahi Bishop Museum, studying the images of photographers who came before him to gain a sense of the historic dance form.

To learn the origins of hula, he delved into the rich fabric of Polynesia and discovered that while the precise genesis of the hula remains in doubt, Bora Bora and the Marquesas are likely origins since it is believed the first Polynesian to reach Hawaii came from those islands. Today, some form of the dance may be found in almost every island group in the Pacific although the hula of Hawaii is the most widely known.

It is a visual story in dance, chant and music of landmarks and ancestors, of spirits and gods and things of nature, the big, broad ocean and islands faraway.

When pious missionaries arrived in Hawaii in 1820 , they knew none of that; they saw only an erotic dance performed by young men and women wearing only grass skirts or kapa material. They immediately banned the “heathen” and “lascivious” hula and tried to drive it out of the culture.

The first phographers on the scene tried, with little success, to record these “pagan” dances in tintype and glass plate and those early images are preserved at the Bishop Museum where Kim Taylor Reece began his study of the hula in 1979.

“In all the old photographs you see- and I have looked at hundreds- the dancers are static, posed, stiff as a board,” he says. The cameras and the film the photographers used were too slow to capture dancers in motion.”

With the advance of cameras, high speed films, new printing methods and fine grain paper, Kim Taylor Reece began to experiment with his own technique to recapture and express that early 19th century look in a contemporary format.

“I try to make everything seem timeless in my photography,” he says. He uses only very grainy black and white film and slows the exposure down to create a slight blurring of motion-all of which emulates and improves upon the archival nature of early photographs.

In this way, the final images are a blend of talents, the dancer and photographer and - in a real sense- Hawai’i, itself.

His images speak clearly to that goal.

25th Anniversary Edition Hula Kahiko book $55.00 (US)   Out of Stock!
Limited Edition Hula Kahiko book

We are releasing 250 Limited Edition Sets. Each book will be hand wrapped in Shantung Silk, signed and numbered by hand. Included with each book is a First Release limited edition lithograph. Printed on heavy weight art paper. All encased in a silk covered slipcase.

Suggested Retail: $395.00 (USD)   Online Offer: $295.00 (USD)

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