Take A Trip Into The Depths of Nainoa Rosehill’s Mind

Introduce yourself

My name is Nainoa Rosehill. I go by Rosehill most of the time but either name is fine.  My full name is Nainoakapoliokaehukai Rosehill because Hawaiians have this sort of historic cultural obsession with names. It means “The name, the center of the red misty sea” which is something as a Hawaiian we are told to carry around with pride wherever we go. The meaning of our names is pretty important to us culturally. I’m 18, and I’ve never left Hawaii until I chose to come to Chicago. Which has been a dope experience.

When did you first start getting involved with art?

I’ve always been really into drawing and painting for as long as I can remember, and I remember being told I had the eye for it, but I didn’t take making art seriously until late August/ early September of 2016. I really dove into it headfirst and made the strongest complete series of work I’ve made yet I think. My transition from just drawing and painting pictures, to really attempting to push me and make art that challenged myself really was catalyzed by the release of Blonde by Frank Ocean. I think that I come from a very musical/artistic/creative generation. We were raised being bombarded with noise through the internet, the radio, the television, and everything around us from all directions, so for me, the creative outlet give me the tools to find simple meanings in a world where everything is sensationalized and overblown. Blonde was released in conjunction with a very specific time in my life that helped me realize what I want to accomplish, and that I’m just a kid who wants to make a living doing something that I love. I come from a demographic of kids in Hawaii who really clung to the essence of Odd Future. The art scene isn’t very strong in the places where a lot of us grew up on my island with all the crime, drugs, and alcoholism, it’s easy to fall out of touch with your dreams in a place like that. What Odd Future represented to a lot of my friends back in Hawaii is that anybody could pave their way creatively as long as they worked hard and gave it 100%. It’s kind of corny but it was very formative in my journey in becoming an artist.

Why are kelly green and pthalo blue your favorite colors?

Kelly Green and Pthalo blue are just nice to me. Nothing too deep about it, I’m really into all colors, and they each make me feel a certain way when I use them. Kelly green and pthalo blue just have a nice tone to them.

On Feb 8th and 9th, you dropped a series of work in each primary and secondary colors. What inspired this?

I like rearranging my pieces together and imagining how I would relate them to each other visually and through a story. I think it’s pretty cool how certain pieces can play against each other when I arrange them in different groups. I just wanted to see how they would look together arranged by specific colors.


Let’s get into a few pieces of yours, first, The Words I’ll Never Say

The Words I’ll Never Say, has to do a lot with my mental health. I have a dream journal/sketchbook, and I write down and draw things that I think about or dream about on a daily basis. That specific page came from me realizing how much I’ll never share people, how much I give to people who will never give the same back, and how much I really don’t like myself actually. It’s about how intensely I feel emotions, but also how unwilling I am to act on them because of my fear of experiencing pain, failure, and isolation. On the exterior, I’m a very calm, stoic, and quiet person. But On the inside, I’m extremely neurotic, and miserable. I think the way I practice my art has led me to become extremely self-aware of myself in a way too, so I’m comfortable sharing these emotions by writing them down because I’ve already made sense of them visually. But saying them out loud is a whole different thing because there’s always the possibility of pushing people away, of inviting judgment and things like that. So it’s been in my best interest to bottle things up and to let them out on paper. I draw a lot of eyes to resemble my ultra-awareness and sometimes paranoia towards the things that happen around me. This piece is also about not being afraid to feel the way you do, but being absolutely terrified of saying it out loud.


Next, The Sun and Moon

The Sun and Moon is about feeling untethered to reality. The Earth relies on the gravity of other objects to keep its normal routine of life operating successfully, and right now I’m in a time of my life where I feel like I’m hurtling through empty space with no one really to ground me to something real. It’s a self-portrait of sorts. At the time I was creating this, I felt like a puzzle that someone lost most of the pieces too, and here I am going through life trying to fit random people and things in the holes in my life to validate my existence. I use art to release a lot of stress if you can’t tell haha. The Sun and Moon is also about unrequited love, both platonic and romantic. When you give 100% to people who do not give the same back, when you overestimate the value you hold in people’s lives, when you are underestimated by loved ones, that is what this piece is about.


And last, Judgement day/so many friends

Judgement day/so many friends is a lot more complex than the other pieces. I have a night class on the Abrahamic religions and, as someone who identifies as something that isn’t necessarily smiled upon by these religions, I am constantly reminded for the entire 4 hours that a divine being is watching me, judging me, and that people will automatically decide what kind of person I am due to my identity I’ve known for most of my life. But I also am surrounded by a lot of friends in that class, so I felt it was unfair to myself to only give prudence to the part of my life that is riddled with paranoia and anxiety. I also think this piece is about all the friends and family I’ve made in my life, especially the friends I’ve made recently. They may not be in that class with me, or in my physical surroundings, but there is a sense of them watching me and it makes me feel safe, even though I barely know them. But the piece also turns around on itself because, my paranoia leads me to cling onto people, and it drives me into a place emotionally where I feel unworthy of them. So the peace I’ve acquired by sharing my art turns to judgment again and it has just become a cycle of emotional extremes I’ve come to live with.


Looking through your work, how much inspiration has Bryant Giles had on you?

People sometimes tell me that Bryant Giles and I intersect very similarly in ways I don’t see all the time, but I think we both have a technique of over-saturating the canvas/page/paper with ideas. Using the chaos as its own medium to tell its own story is something I relate to. Personally, I admire Bryant Giles very much, his technique and passion for the craft is admirable, but I don’t think he informs my technique or intention beyond anything surface level. There is a one piece I made where I used a figure of his as inspiration because I thought the story that I extrapolated from the piece that he made provided context that satisfied me personally, but if I didn’t point it out I don’t think anyone would notice. It’s something I did for myself. He’s an amazing artist.

What feelings do you hope to arouse In people who view your art?

I’m not really sure actually. I just want to make art. Whatever people feel when they see my art is valid to me. What I feel when I see my art is a lot of shame. The overarching theme of everything I make is shame. I’m ashamed of who I am, of what I say, and what I’ve done. I’m not entirely sure of what I’m ashamed of, but on a deeper level than the shame, I think my art exudes love. I love creating art, I love being an artist, I feel it in my soul. I love the people I appreciate in my life to a fault.