Pele's Reprise - Kiawe wall sculpture commision


John Strohbehn is a Sculpture Artist and designer creating work in Leilani Estates on the Big Island of Hawaii. It was a privilege and challenge to work through and have his work effected by the recent eruptions on Kilauea. Using wood and stone John's sculptures create flowing abstract movements that speak directly to source of the material and his relation to day to day life. The potential of the raw substrate is the inspiration for John's art. The meaning of the work is distilled through the process of responding to the shape of material with a form that resonates with his own experiences.

Growing up in the Palouse hills of rural Eastern Washington, John was influenced by natures wide open spaces. The seemingly endless rolling slopes of wind swept soil, accented by the marks of agriculture, made an early impression on his sense of line and design. At a very young age he would go missing to wonder the foothills looking for the next horizon. It was to the dismay of his parents and local authorities John was sometimes found miles away in the countryside. He grew up in a musical family with a father who is an accomplished water color artist. The freedom of the landscape mixed with a family that created a supportive art making environment helped encourage John's exploration.

In his twenties, John's primary passion was music as he enrolled at Western Washington University to study classical guitar. During this period he worked full time as a graphic designer and sign maker which gradually shifted his focus back to the visual arts. He graduated with a Fine Arts Degree in 2006 with a focus on painting and design studying under Ed Bereal. John continued to pursue his design career after school working in Bellingham, WA as the lead designer for a theming, fabrication and sign making company. There, he was able to collaborate with other talented fabricators, architects and designers to create large themed spaces. Having a hand in both the design and building processes, John was able to intimately learn how an idea grows into a finished product.

After meeting his wife and moving to Maui, Hawaii in 2010 John continued his design work as a freelance designer. Motivated by Hawaii's powerful landscapes John began to feel his artistic focus reawakened. In 2012 John met master sculptor Bruce Turnbull who inspired him to try sculpture. The friendship and experiences they shared encouraged John to explore making art again. It was through sculpture that John found a voice as an artist. In 2015 he moved with his wife to the Big Island where he continued to hone his craft. John works to create art that mimics the same wonder and gratitude he feels when in the presence of wild places.