Esther Hi’ilani Candari was born to a mixed Asian American family and raised on the beautiful eastern shore of Oahu, Hawai’i. As an artist, her work reflects this rich multicultural upbringing and often draws upon Polynesian symbols and cultural ideologies.
Her work is primarily figurative and explores concepts such as multiracial identity; gender and the female gaze in context of religion; and the nuance of human psychology that can be expressed through portraiture. Many of her portraits break the fourth wall with their direct gaze and challenge the viewer to engage with the subject on an intimate level, rather than merely observe. The foundations of her painting techniques are traditional in nature, but her meticulously crafted multimedia applications infuse the final works with a unique, innovative, and captivating edge. Her academic research and written work complement her visual artistry and serve to enrich and inform conversations related to race, gender, and LDS doctrine.
She has a BFA from BYU-Hawaii, an MFA from Liberty University, has studied at the New York Academy of Art, and interned with Joseph Brickey. Her work has been exhibited, purchased, and published in cities across the country including New York, Chicago, Salt Lake City, and San Francisco. She currently lives in Utah County with her husband, Steven Christiansen, and an ever-growing collection of miniature cacti.
Read Linda Hoffman Kimball’s interview with Esther Hi’ilani Candarie here.