Statement from the National Endowment for the Arts on the Death of NEA National Heritage Fellow Gladys Kukana Grace
It is with great sadness that the National Endowment for the Arts acknowledges the passing of 2010 NEA National Heritage Fellow and master lauhala (palm leaf) weaver Gladys Kukana Grace. Aunty Gladys, as she was known, learned the art of weaving lauhala from her maternal grandmother through a longstanding oral tradition and passed along this art form to a new generation of weavers through classes, workshops, festivals, and by co-founding the weaving club Ulana me ka lokomaika'i, which means "weaving with goodness and kindness from within." In a 2010 interview with the NEA, Grace said, "I try to teach [my students] you weave with the goodness of your heart within. If your heart is good, clean, and your spirit is good, then you are able to learn to make a hat and make beautiful hats and your hat will look how beautiful you are. And if you don't feel good, you're angry with anybody or you're not a pleasant person, your hat will show everything on it. So I teach them, weave with how you feel inside you and it makes you become a good person." The NEA joins Aunty Gladys's family, friends, and students in mourning this loss while celebrating her life and contributions to Hawaiian culture.