Episode 38: Leland Miyano

(un)making

Episode 38: Leland Miyano

By Weston Teruya March 6, 2019

Weston Teruya welcomes artists, arts administrators, and cultural workers of color to get real about their lives, practices, and careers. Each episode is an in-depth look into how art gets made, but more importantly how these folks are seeing to the system of art’s (UN)making.


In this episode, I’m back in Hawaiʻi where I had the chance to talk with Honolulu-based artist, landscape designer, and author Leland Miyano. Leland’s practice emerges from his lifelong study of botany, the land, and how humans live within our natural environments. Exemplifying this, his perhaps best known and most commonly cited artworks is his own backyard garden, a one-acre plot of densely planted, mutually supporting flora and stone earthworks. Reflecting this deep and everyday familiarity, the three books he’s authored are guides to the flowers and trees of Hawaiʻi.

Leland is currently in the middle of building Huaka’i/A Wake, a site-specific installation in Foster Botanical Garden for the Honolulu Biennial. Taking the form of a double-hulled Polynesian canoe, built from cut branches from invasive strawberry guava, the sculpture reflects on the urgent need to right our relationship with nature and seek a livable future together. In our conversation, we talk about seeing species going extinct in his lifetime, natural materials as palimpsest, and why he is still hopeful.

Leland Miyano is a Honolulu-based artist, landscape designer, and author with a deep knowledge of local plants and ecological systems. His creative practice moves between exhibitions, public sculpture, and lush gardens, including his own densely arranged backyard in Kahaluʻu. Leland has been the recipient of the Catherine E.B. Cox award for excellence in visual arts from the Honolulu Museum of Art and is a featured artist in the 2019 Honolulu Biennial where he is creating a site-specific sculpture in Foster Botanical Garden.

Honolulu Biennial 2019

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