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Kona coffee farmer’s portraits go on display

November 18, 2018

KAILUA-KONA, Hawaii (AP) — A Hawaii photographer and coffee farmer is capturing portraits of other coffee farmers and hand-dying each picture with coffee from each individual’s farm.

West Hawaii Today reported that while harvesting coffee from Kona’s mountainside, Tara Cronin photographs other farmers, volunteers and temporary workers and then hand-dyes the portraits in a bathtub at her home.

“I don’t do portraits a lot, but I have done some in the past,” Cronin said. “And when I think of portraits, I like to hear their voice, too. So I asked each person a few questions about their experience in Kona coffee.”

Alongside each photograph is a few paragraphs telling the farmers’ stories.

“I’ll tell you the truth, the harvest is both energizing and exciting, but we all kind of want to cry as well,” Cronin said with a laugh. “Because you have to keep up with the crop.”

For its annual art exhibition celebrating the Kona Coffee Cultural Festival, the Donkey Mill Art Center is displaying the portraits.

The festival’s director, Miho Morinoue, says this year’s event has a different focus from the exhibitions in past years, focusing more on current themes instead of Kona coffee’s rich history.

During the festival, the Donkey Mill is also offering 100 percent Kona coffee for tasting.

Also on display is a clay installation by ceramics studio manager Erin Skelton. The monochromatic scene featuring a white desk, boots, wall and single coffee cup is Skelton’s own ode to Kona coffee as an outsider who moved to the island 11 months ago from Canada.

“It was kind of a spontaneous thing,” Skelton said. “The idea kind of just came to me, because I had found this old cup of mine in the studio, and all the coffee had evaporated out of it. And that was kind of the trigger to the idea of doing this installation.”

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