Meet the Artists: Patti Golebieski
By Na Heona Molokai
Na Heona Molokai (Artists of Molokai) is a group creating an exhibition titled “No Stop Light: Molokai” for the 3,600 square foot Downtown Art Center in Honolulu, in May 2022. In the coming months, we will introduce each artist.
What is your name and art form?
My mother wanted to call me Mona Lisa, but my father would not agree. I was christened Patricia Golebieski, but most people know me as Patti. I am a polyartist.
What is a polyartist?
The phrase was coined around 1970 to mean a person who creates in two or more non-adjacent arts. With hand and heart, I make art.
On Molokai, I am known for my handmade bracelets sewn with opihi shells. The colors are influenced by what I see when swimming in the ocean.
I sew paper, making handmade greeting cards into functional art. “Weave Me a Story” incorporates creative writing and my passion to reinvent materials. I hand weave paper.
I journal, and hand stitch my words onto fabric. My art titled “For Angela” utilized journal writing from 2019. I wrote about my experience living in Mapulehu, Molokai.
I make fabric tapestries and am currently working on three panels that incorporate images from St. Joseph Church. My Catholic upbringing and interest in Saint Damien’s life are the heart of this work. It is my hope that my work will influence a benefactor to continue the preservation of the historic church.
I sew a fabric creature that I call “Betta Mole ‘okai.” While it’s true that no moles actually live in Hawaii, Betta captures the essence of love and respect for the land.
Can you speak about your career highlights?
I attended Oregon State University, receiving a BA degree in clothing and textiles. My first job after graduation was sewing bridal gowns. My pattern making skills lead me to a career at Jantzen. I drafted patterns for swimwear, and later became an apparel designer. I invented new approaches to using materials, including stretch lace. My career transitioned to Columbia Sportswear. I designed hunting and fishing apparel, incorporating neoprene as a technique to distribute weight.
Can you share some highlights from your art journey?
I developed my own style using the phrase “clothing as art.” I won first place in the Vogue Magazine Juried show in 1982 in Portland, OR, with a floor length gown sewn of 100 percent silk noil, inspired by Fortuny pleating and historic costume.
My piece, “Courage,” a beaded lei made with cowrie and opihi shell, also won an award in the Hawaii Craftsmen juried show in 2021. 2020 was a year requiring courage from many people. The cowrie ghost and opihi shells represent the families who had to reach unknown depths to find courage through dark times. I made this piece to encourage others to find their courage.
What is your connection with Molokai?
I fell in love. My husband proposed at Kumimi beach in 2006. In 2017, we built a small house in Mapulehu. I tell people it was the hardest work I have ever done. I was “the lady on a ladder” for nine months. Now the home is finished and I can get back to making art. I have little time, but my hands and heart are happy.