You may have noticed my posts on the captivating “Earth To Sky” Art Exhibit with Steve Tobin at Imua Discovery Garden, shared via my Instagram. This exhibition is intriguing and inspiring, so I created a blog post in addition to my social media reels. I hope to spark curiosity among you, as I encourage you to go and see and experience it yourself.
I’ll admit, I was initially a bit hesitant when the invitation to this exhibit arrived. Weekends on Maui are typically spent at the beach, and that was my original plan. However, an inner voice encouraged me to seize the opportunity, reminding me that expanding my knowledge and experiences is always a good idea. So, with that encouragement, I attended the exhibit, bringing along my friend, K. Surprisingly, we both found the exhibit tour to be an enriching and enjoyable experience.
As I looked into the background of the artist, Steve Tobin, and his creations, I became increasingly captivated by his life story and the narratives woven into his art. Being there and actually seeing the sculptures sparked inspiration in me. I hope this blog inspires you to explore Imua Discovery Garden and let the Earth to Sky exhibit ignite your imagination.
About Will Smith Imua Discovery Garden
Before we go further about the art, let us first learn about the location. Will Smith Imua Discovery Garden is a community space for outdoor, nature-based learning for island keiki, with a mission to empower children and their families to reach their full potential. To learn more about Discover Imua, please visit their website at discoverimua.com. You may also learn more about Will Smithʻs Discovery Imua Garden here.
About Steve Tobin
Steve Tobin is a sculptor working in glass, bronze, steel and clay. His art has appeared in major museums and collections around the world and has been featured in hundreds of publications, including Time, Newsweek, National Geographic, Smithsonian, and the NY Times to name a few. CNN featured the permanent installation of his 9/11 memorial (Trinity Root) in Manhattan in 2005. The 20’ bronze Trinity Root was created from the roots of the historic sycamore tree that saved St. Paul’s Chapel during the World Trade Center attacks. More information regarding Steve Tobin can be found at stevetobin.com
Steve Tobinʻs Art Series Displayed at Discover Imua Garden:
1. Steel Root Series – features large-scale sculptures made from steel that resemble intricate and organic root systems. The use of steel gives it a robust and industrial aesthetic while capturing the organic essence of nature. These are the most prominent displays in the exhibit. I love the colorful “Dancing Steelroots Series”. Dancing Steelroots, root-like shapes made from oil pipes that channel both dance movements and Japanese calligraphy.
2. Bronze Forest Series – This series features large bronze sculptures of tree trunks and branches, capturing the essence of a forest in a solid and enduring form. is made from wax poured into a mold of a root, then pieced together to recreate the original shape of the root. “Romeo and Juliet” and the “Running Roots” are part of this series that you can see displayed at Discover Imua Gardens.
3. Syntax Series – The Syntax series features a collection of intricate and abstract sculptures that explore the visual language and structure of forms. These sculptures often involve complex arrangements of lines and shapes, creating visually engaging and dynamic compositions. In the Syntax series, Tobin plays with the syntax of visual elements, manipulating form and structure to evoke a sense of movement and rhythm. The sculptures in this series may vary in scale and material, but they share a common theme of exploring the syntax of artistic expression. A Death Star-like orb whose surface is all metal letters. Tobin invested 2,000 hours in the piece.
4. Twisties – Twisties adds colorful, upright squiggles to an open lawn. Made from repurposed steel pipes, these yellow squiggly figures spring joyfully from a flat field at the gardens. They’re meant to be interactive, as they rotate from a base sunk a foot into the ground. The “Twisties” were inspired by Asian calligraphy, but named to honor Houston-based gymnast Simone Biles, whose struggles with disorientation during the Olympic Games in 2021 pulled gymnastics terminology into mainstream usage. “Her discussion, it was such an elegant and honorable communication about an issue she struggled with,” Tobin says. “She inspired a lot of people, like my daughter, to frankly discuss your psychological state of mind.” “Twisties” are full of potential and sometimes conflicted meanings. “In a way, it’s’ bigger than gymnastics,” Steve Tobin says. “It’s about disorientation in the moment.” Twisties comes in various color. However, for the Earth to Sky Exhibit, there is only one color, and itʻs yellow. Steve said that for him it represents Sunflowers. But we can have our own interpretation too. We had so much fun with these Twisties as you can see in this reel and the photo below:
5. Clouds and Icicles – Some of his pieces require a little hunt. “Head in the Clouds” – a series of cloudlike shapes made from hammered steel. At Discover Imua, there are nestled among the lush green ground covers. Make sure you find them. The Icicles are close to where the Syntax Art is. I donʻt have a photo of the icicle, but you can see it in this reel.
6. Nest – This series explores his interpretation of bird nests in many shapes and dimensions, from miniature to garden size. All hold one or several precious eggs in stainless steel or bronze. As you are looking at the Eggs in what looks like a birds nest, the question to ask is “what kind of creature made this? what will emerge…?” These series also makes you want to reflect of your own existence, journey and what you think you will become. Other Egg Nests are black painted welded steel, going up into a swirl that evokes a stylized tornado.
Mahalo to all the Sponsors
The sculpture exhibit is not only a celebration of creativity but also serves a vital purpose. All proceeds generated from this event will directly contribute to Imua Family Services’ mission of providing support and resources to children with developmental challenges and their families. With the support of partners such as PASHA Hawaii, which generously sponsored the shipping of the sculptures to and from Maui, Imua Family Services is able to ensure its continued success in delivering essential services. We also appreciate the support of Alaska Airlines, Maui Now News, Maui No Ka Oi Magazine and Experience Maui.
As i said in the beginning of this post. I hope to spark curiosity among you, as I encourage you to go and see and experience it yourself. Go. Go by yourself or go with family and friends. Take this as your opportunity to explore sculptures by world-renowned artists while enjoying the serene natural surroundings that Imua Discovery Garden offers. This is your invitation to connect with art, nature, and community. We hope to see you there.