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More About This Project

Featuring an Interview with My Dad



Lei made by my father, Stephen Chock, in Plano, TX




My brother and me at my high school graduation with the lei our dad made for me

My initial desire in making these hand clapper leis and this Instagram filter was to create a device that my classmates and I could use to safely congratulate ourselves for graduating during a pandemic. I also wanted to extend this gesture beyond just graduates to encourage people during this pandemic. 


I use hand toys throughout my artwork as inanimate objects that are reminiscent of human touch to create a strange sort of playful but distanced interaction. I thought that the clapping hand toys were a fun and contactless way to give applause. In finding a way to activate these small hand clapper toys, I decided to layer them on top of each other and connect them together by drilling small holes into the hands and weaving a string through the holes. The form reminded me of the beginning stages of a lei, and it made sense to me to connect the hands into a lei. 

I have seen my father make leis at our kitchen table in Plano, TX for very special occasions such as my high school graduation. Lei making is such a unique skill and a very meaningful gesture that is connected to my father’s Hawaiian heritage. Our family came to Hawaii from China as indentured servants in the late 19th century. When my father was growing up in Hawaii, he learned how to dance hula and make leis. I had memories and had seen parts of his lei making process, but growing up in Texas, I wasn’t too familiar with the tradition and process. 


I interviewed my dad over Zoom about how he learned how to make leis and the traditions of leis to learn more about culture in Hawaii and what it means to wear a lei. My dad shared about the ancient beginnings of lei making in Hawaii, the lei making traditions he grew up with, and how he makes leis with the flowers available in Texas. I wanted to share his knowledge alongside my project to show how meaningful it is to receive a lei and to recognise these traditions.


You can watch a recording of my interview with my dad here in these three videos. 

My dad talks about the origin of the lei making tradition
My dad shares about dancing hula and lei making traditions from growing up in Hawaii
How My Dad Makes Graduation Leis in Texas
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