Our Artist - Susan Benay

A Few Words From Our Artist...

My educational background includes a MFA from Otis Art Institute in Los Angeles, studying abroad, special projects and working with many important artists such as Richard Diebenkorn, John Altoon, Charles White among others. I lived in a storefront in downtown LA in the 60s and was part of the alternative Temple Street Artists movement. I have been a prolific painter my whole life working in both formal and experimental venues. I worked in the cinematic arts field with an Academy Award winning cinematographer as well as producing and hosting a small television arts show for a time. I have been widely shown in galleries, museums and my work is included in private collections. I have been featured in articles and stories. I have been an avid arts advocate and was a Cultural Arts Commissioner in So. California for 5 years, as well as gallery owner, arts writer, and cultural consultant.

Moving to Hawaii changed my life artistically.

I really believe that Hawaii is the supreme jewel among all the paradises on earth. Its unique visual splendor is so exquisite that upon arriving here years ago, I very soon laid down my painter's brush that had served me well for over 30 years and picked up my camera. The quick blink of the camera shutter seems the only way to catch the constantly changing wonders of the tropics.

Here, everything is alive and changes in a heartbeat -- the light, the color, the shapes, the ocean, the sky, the ambiance...the feeling. The digital camera medium affords me the possibility to keep pace with those changes. Snap! Got it. I can then import the image into the digital darkroom of my Mac G5 computer and play with the aesthetics and technology to enrich and deepen the dimension of the image. It is a contemplative process.

I look to unlock the most essential feeling and spirit inherent in the image, to create a perfect blend of brilliant light, color, composition, and image with authentic feeling. The end result is very much like standing in front of an awesome sunrise ­ and not only seeing it, but also feeling it!

As a photographer in Hawaii it's hard not to be always working! I have taken to having my camera with me at all times because it seems no matter what I am doing, there always arises an incredible photo op ­ whether it is walking on the beach and seeing a sea turtle swimming in a bay where turtles haven't been seen before, or coming upon the mystery an ancient Hawaiian cultural site, or catching a brilliant rainbow pouring into the shimmering ocean or snapping a giant rogue wave that surprises all of us on shore. The islands are very generous in offering stunning images. Through my work, I always feel like I am documenting a supreme paradise, then, like a conduit, I get to share those special photographs with other people.

That is why my husband Patrick and I started our company, Lanikai Sugar Co. It provides a way to get these luscious island art photographs out to the world.

The question we get asked the most is "Why the name Lanikai Sugar Co.?" The main reason is that we wanted to capture a feeling of authentic Hawaii. Because my artistic vision is showing not only what Hawaii looks like but also FEELS like, we wanted our company name to do the same.

Currently you can find my custom site-specific photographs in galleries and shops island-wide and in many fine hotels on Oahu like the Kahala Mandarin Oriental, the Royal Hawaiian, the Sheraton Moana Surfrider and Turtle Bay Resort. And on Maui and Kauai and the Big Islands' nicest resorts too!

Mainland Galleries and tropical theme stores are welcome to inquire about carrying my work as well. Additionally, Lanikai Sugar Co. offers stock images for use on corporate websites and in print!

By the way, if you are on Oahu in mid-August we will have a booth at the 2006 Made In Hawaii Festival. (August 18-20). Hope to see you there and Mahalo for viewing our site!


All Photographic Images and Text ©2006 Susan Benay/Lanikai Sugar Co.
All Rights Reserved.