Hawaiian history lives in 2017 MAMo awardee's brushstrokes
Brook Kapūkuniahi Parker is an artist of his native Hawai‘i, raised in Kahalu‘u, O‘ahu. He is the second eldest of six sons born to David Paul Parker and Patricia M. Kauka Parker. Brook is a direct descendant of John Palmer Parker of Newton, Mass., founder of the Parker Ranch on Hawai‘i island. John Parker's wife, Rachael Keli‘ikipikanekaolohaka Ohiaku was great-granddaughter of Kamehameha the Great.
Parker's art portrays the deep love and admiration he has for his ancestors. As a little boy, Parker was greatly influenced by his father David, a gifted, self taught artist and painter, Hawaiian historian, genealogist and writer. As Brook grew older his father's interest became his interest and, with no formal art school training, his father's library of art and Hawaiian history books became his teachers. He excelled in the art classes he attended at He‘eia Elementary, King Intermediate and Castle High School (1979) in Kane‘ohe. After high school he attended BYU Hawai‘i in Lā‘ie, then, in 1981, served a full time church mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints with the Lakota people in the South Dakota Rapid City Mission. Upon his return home in 1983, and for the next 20 years, he worked in the commercial paint industry in Honolulu. He left the paint industry in 2005 to pursue his art.
His father David Paul Parker and Herb Kawainui Kāne are those he looks up to as far as Hawaiian visual art. Both were inspirational in his younger years. His hope is to teach and inspire youth to develop their artistic gifts and continue to share their aloha visually.
In 2012, for the first time, a piece of Native Hawaiian art was hung in the Dirksen Senate Office Building in Washington, D.C. The Committee on Indian Affairs, which oversees legislation relating to American Indian, Alaska Native and Native Hawaiian groups, was chaired by Senator Daniel Akaka, the first U.S. senator of Native Hawaiian ancestry. The room's walls feature art by American Indian and Alaska Native artists but, until 2012, no work by a Native Hawaiian artist had been featured. The work, a painting by Parker entitled "‘Aha Ula," was hung on Thursday, September 20, 2012 prior to a committee meeting, and is on permanent loan to the Committee.
Parker has illustrated numerous children's books for ‘Aha Pūnana Leo Hawaiian Language Emersion Schools. Other clients include The Hawai‘i Convention Center, The Kahala Hotel, Four Seasons Resort Hualalai, Disney’s Aulani Hotel, the 29th Infantry Brigade Readiness Center, Hawaii Army National Guard, Kalaeloa, Hi; Kamehameha Publishing, Kamehameha Schools Kapālama Campus, The University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa and Hilo, State of Hawai‘i Board of Education, Conservation Council of Hawai‘i, Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale Sanctuary in Maui, Hui Mālama ‘O Waimānalo, Bess Press and the Pacific American Foundation.
Commenting on his art, Parker writes, "I firmly believe we all have been blessed with some God-given talent. These talents are diverse and may not be as visible as in being an artist, musician, singer or athlete. Whatever it is, our obligation is to identify those talents we posses, improve upon them and then share them with others. An illustration is first felt in the heart, visualized in the mind, and eventually out through the hands and on to the paper.”