Sean Connelly is a geomancer from Honolulu, Hawai‘i working as an artist, sculptor, design theorist, and grassroots architectural historian hybrid experimental cartographer.
As a next-generation, activist-driven design practitioner and expert witness, Sean is fluid among the realms of architecture, landscape, infrastructure, and art. Their work includes new media, land art, film, cartography, design, data analysis, social practice, and more.
Sean works to repair the impacts of settler colonialism, militarization, and climate change today. They maintain an aesthetic and egalitarian vision to help advance the recovery of Native, oceanic, and holographic futures with a focus that is ecological, economic, and technologic in scope. From building to cosmos—Sean approaches material, information, energy, and time as biocultural and planetary entities that we have evolved to honor and replicate.
Sean co-produces Hawai‘i Non-Linear, whose mission is to create art and architecture for ‘āina. Sean co-founded and co-directs Hawai‘i Non-Linear in collaboration with Dominic Leong (Leong-Leong).
Sean [He/They. 1984, O‘ahu, Oceania] is a queer, diasporic white-passing person-of-color, Pacific-Islander American local settler grandchild of immigrants raised in a Ilocano/Hawaiian family from Kalihi and He'eia. They identify as a “ghost in the field” working in the outliers of the profession. They collaborate with those willing to legitimately intervene and address the complexities of indigenous futures for Hawai‘i. Sean's interest strives to connect community in resisting ways of knowing that oppress indigenous futures.
Studio-driven works include theoretical new-media open-access research anthology exhibited as “anti-essays” such as: Hawai‘i Futures (2010-), a virtual intervention on island urbanism; Africa-Pacific (2015-), an architectural theory of the Oceanic; Ala Wai Centennial Memorial Project (2017-2019), a hypothetical simulation of Waikīkī; Oahu 2450 (2019), the first forensic 3D mapping of the United States militarization on the Island of O‘ahu from 1898-Present. Together these works exhibited online have accumulated an analytic record of over 40,000 visits online. These works enable Sean’s mission to transform experience and broadcasts a novel architectural history and theory from the Pacific, from Hawai‘i. The intellectual output of this studio-driven research forms the basis of Sean’s creative body of curated works and collaborative client projects.
Curated works explore and exhibit issues of material (sky/ground), information (space/flow), reference (climate/energy), and time (phantasmic/holographic). Current installations include a prominent public sculpture at Thomas Square commissioned by the City and County of Honolulu Arts Commission (2021). Past installations include sculptures exhibited at ii Gallery, Honolulu Museum of Art, Honolulu Biennial at Foster Botanical Gardens, Luggage Store Gallery in San Francisco, and Akron Art Museum in Ohio.
Collaborative client works include donor-funded cultural plans for Native Hawaiian organizations focused on recovering indigenous food systems across the Hawaiian islands. Recently completed recovery plans involving expertise in architecture, landscape, real estate, and culture include a 1,600-acre recovery strategy (2021) for Mālama Loko Ea Foundation to restore a historic Hawaiian fishpond located in Haleiwa, Hawai‘i; and a 400-acre landscape plan (2019) for Hui Mālama i ke AlaʻŪlili funded by Kamehameha Schools. Auxiliary works include the first statewide cartographic analysis of child abuse and neglect from 1992-2017 in Hawai‘i for Consuelo Foundation (2019).
Supporting artist residencies have included NTUCCA Singapore with Ute Meta Bauer (2018) and Santa Fe Art Institute with Jaime Blosser (2016). Additionally, Sean attended Standing Rock (2016), and has previously marched for Black Lives Matters (2014), and various other LGBTQ causes and environmental activism (2006-onward).
Sean is a founding board member of Protect Our Ala Wai Watersheds (POAWW), a grassroots advocacy group that organized in 2019 and successfully sued the State of Hawai‘i to halt a United States Army Corps of Engineers proposal to build seven detention basins in the last remaining native portion of stream in Waikīkī. Sean has served as an expert witness in architecture for the State of Hawai‘i and is regarded as an authority in architecture, landscape, and planning.
Academically, Sean is currently Adjunct Assistant Professor at Columbia University Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation. Previously, Sean has served as Visiting Lecturer at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology School of Architecture and Planning. Sean has also taught studio and lecture courses at a range of institutions including: University of Hawai‘i School of Architecture, and Harvard Graduate School of Design. Sean has also served as critic for design courses taught at the University of Texas Austin School of Architecture, the University of Oregon School of Architecture & Environment, Nanyang Technological University in Singapore, and the University of New Mexico School of Architecture and Planning.
Sean has recently published the essays Ahupua‘a for Peace edited by Jaimey Hamilton Faris, and Our City as Ahupua‘a: For Justice-Advancing Futures edited by Noelani Goodyear-Kaʻōpua, Craig Howes, Jonathan Kay Kamakawiwo‘ole Osorio, and Aiko Yamashiro, which follows the 2013 essay Urbanism as Island Living of the same edited series Value of Hawai‘i.
Sean’s work has been exhibited internationally and referenced in numerous scholarly works including citations in BLDGBLOG, Art Journal, Places Journal, Pacific Arts Journal, and more.
Sean holds a Doctorate in Architecture from the University of Hawai‘i, a Master's in Design from Harvard University Graduate School of Design.