Q&A: 6 Questions with Hawai‘i State Art Museum’s Katharena Rentumis

HiSAM’s exhibit specialist talks about being a steward for the arts, new mixed media works and her special connection with Yayoi Kusama.


Katharena Rentumis Family Portrait Hisam Web

Rentumis and her paintings in what she calls a “family portrait.” Photo: Courtesy of Katharena Rentumis



Katharena Rentumis has been busy lately, in front of and behind the scenes. She’s both an exhibit specialist for Hawai‘i State Art Museum and State Foundation for Culture and the Arts, a job that lured her to O‘ahu from Massachusetts in January 2019, as well as an accomplished artist in her own right, creating works that span from abstract, pattern-driven paintings to handmade jewelry. We recently spoke with her about her latest projects.


HONOLULU Magazine: What does an exhibit specialist do, exactly?

Katharena Rentumis: As an exhibit specialist, I work on a team of four. We are the designated art handlers, aka art preparators, of the Hawai‘i State Art Museum and Hawai‘i State Foundation on Culture and the Arts. We steward all the artworks in the Art in Public Places program from acquisition to exhibition, installing artworks in a variety of state sites throughout the Islands and all the exhibitions at the museum.


Katharena Rentumis Iterations Hisam Web

“Iterations 2,” mixed media on panel, 2020. Photo: Courtesy of Katharena Rentumis



HM: What has been your most memorable experience working for HiSAM so far?
Being a part of the Scholastics Art Awards exhibition installs has been memorable for me. I admire the genuine creativity and sophistication of the works being created by the featured artists [who are all local middle and high school students]. I enjoy collecting art in addition to creating it and there were definitely some pieces this year that I would’ve liked to add to my collection. Youth creatives always bring a refreshing energy to the space with their presence and I look forward to being a part of more youth and teen art exhibitions, events and programs.


SEE ALSO: See Powerful, Award-Winning Student Artwork in the Hawai‘i State Art Museum’s Latest Exhibit


HM: What kind of art do you do?
Recently, I’ve been creating two-dimensional mixed media works using paint, water (sometimes from rain or the ocean) and drawing tools such as paint markers or tiny paint brushes. I’ve also been working on new earring designs. I tend to work in series; right now my works are building on merging invisible things like thoughts with compositions that are reminiscent of habitats or landscapes. My work has a common thread of time as a personal marker of meaning through meticulous image and pattern making.



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HM: Did your art change or evolve during the pandemic?
The pandemic prompted me to lean back into my own creative process and to start practicing mindfulness and meditation, which together really made a difference in helping to process the year.  My new series began in March of 2020 and it’s been ongoing since then.


Katharena Rentumis Genesis Hisam Web

“Genesis,” mixed media on panel, 2020. This is Rentumis’ first piece in her new series. Photo: Katharena Rentumis



HM: What are some things that you are looking forward to doing now that things are opening back up?
I’m looking forward to traveling, seeing my family, going to art shows, and I’d like to find opportunities to curate and collaborate with other artists and designers. I’ve been following Fishcake’s Brunch Club talks and looking forward to visiting the space in person once events are live again. I’m also a big fan of the work of local artists Sheanae Tam and Juvana Soliven and organizations like Pow! Wow!/Kaka‘ako Art walls, the Honolulu Printmakers and Hawai‘i Contemporary.


SEE ALSO: Q&A: 7 Questions with Mark Kadota



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HM: Who is your favorite artist of all time?
That’s a difficult question because it evolves regularly and a lot of artists inspire me. I studied printmaking and glass and spent years working in creative communities so there are too many inspirations to name. Being introduced to the work of Yayoi Kusama was a memorable moment. She will always be a favorite for me as someone who creates meticulous pattern-driven work.


Katharena Rentumis Vertigo Hisam Web

“Vertigo,” mixed media on panel, 2020. Photo: Courtesy of Katharena Rentumis



See Rentumis’ latest works debuting May 3 at Morning Brew at Salt at Our Kaka‘ako, and follow her on Instagram: @hikatharena. katharenarentumis.com


Lisa Shiroma


Lisa Shiroma is a correspondent for HiSAM and is an artist and art educator. Lisa is the former owner of the HiSAM Museum Gallery Shop, which she ran with partners Aly Ishikuni-Sasaki and Travis Sasaki from Mori by Art + Flea from 2017 to June 2020.