Aunty Gladys Grace, a tireless kumu, leaves a legacy through the weaving club Ulana Me Ka Lokomaika’i, which she started in 1997 with Frank Masagatani. She saw lauhala as much more than an art and tradition. “It is a connection with the past,” she said. “It changes your life. It will make you a better person.”
Aunty Gladys learned the art of lauhala weaving from her maternal grandmother, while growing up on the Big Island’s South Kona coast. Her grandmother's family was known for weaving hats with the technique of light-and-dark contrasting patterns known as anoni.
Aunty Gladys taught hundreds of students since the 1980s. While weaving techniques and patterns, were once guarded as family secrets, Aunty Gladys taught anyone with a desire to help keep the traditional lauhala weaving from becoming a lost art. In 2010, Aunty Gladys was named as a National Heritage Fellow, the nation’s highest honor in folk and traditional arts. The program is designed to recognize and preserve the country’s diverse cultural heritage, with $25,000 fellowships going to master folk and traditional artists.
The beautiful lauhala items on display here were donated by members of the club, all of who learned their craft from Aunty Gladys Grace.