Thursday, September 10, 2009
The late Floria Shepherd's pastel drawing of "The Beautiful Princess Ka'iulani," as the artist so appropriately named the piece of art, has been hanging in the House Sergeant-at-Arms office for many years now. Her eyes are captivating, seductively drawing you in to relive through your imagination the history of Hawaiian royalty.
Floria's children recently visited the Hawaii State Capitol to view the drawing of Ka'iulani, one of two original pieces that are now property of the State Foundation on Culture and the Arts. Both drawings are part of the foundation's Art in Public Collection. The other is a pastel drawing of a bouquet of anemones in soft colors that are easy on the eyes.
Floria passed away in late December of 2008 at the age of 82. Her children, who now live on the mainland and on the Big Island, came to Oahu to bury their mother next to their father at Punchbowl Cemetery.
Gary, Lynn, and Joy chattered openly about their past while viewing the drawings. They shared memories and stories about their mother and her dedication to the arts and the Hawaiian culture.
Floria, who originated from New York, was fascinated by the Hawaiian culture and, most notably, by the Princess Ka'iulani.
"I think she was just enamored with it," said Joy. "You know, by the culture. She just loved the islands."
Floria sketched dozens of drawings of Ka'iulani, said her children. Some drawings were even on brown paper bag.
"She adored and was intrigued by the culture and believed in the power of Pele," added Joy.
Not only did Floria love to paint, draw and doodle, she enjoyed all forms of creative expression. While perusing an album of memorabilia made by her children, I noticed a poem Floria wrote, titled "The Mourning," that seemed fitting for the gathering held in memory of the artist Floria Shepherd.
I'm mourning for myself today
To be in an abyss without light
is as the wingless bird without flight
Will grief and loss find the Holy Grail?
Can shifting sands be moved
Beyond where I am from?
Shifting sands blow beyond
this loss of nature's seed
To water life's gift that feeds
Tomorrow will birth new wings
I will rise as the bird flies,
Mourning no longer with silent cries
In memory of Floria Shepherd.
Photo: Floria's children and other family members with her pastel drawings. From left to right: James Shepherd (cousin) and his wife Cathy, Gary Shepherd (son), Lynn Miller (daughter), Alice Shepherd (granddaughter), and Joy Vasilakis (daughter).