I Sia Eee-oh! is a one-of-kind sculptural tribute to the first ever Hawaiian Hawk to be bred and raised in captivity.  Attempted for decades by other institutions this, “worlds first”, was accomplished in Cyril, Oklahoma, under the stewardship and expertise of Wahathuweeka (Bill Voelker) and TROY, who are co-founders of Sia: The Comanche Nation Ethno-Ornithological Initiative.  Founded on a remarkable balance of both scientific and spiritual knowledge, Sia is the Numunuh (Comanche) word for feather.

Falconer/artist, Ross Matteson met Bill Voelker and TROY at Prix de West Invitational Western Art Exhibition, in 2012 as they respectfully handled raptors as reference for an artist sculpting demonstration. They have been friends, ever since, drawing inspiration from a shared love of raptors and still very relevant indigenous cultural traditions.

The Hawaiian Hawk, or ‘Io, pronounced “Eee-oh” is found in the wild only in Hawaii and is classified as an endangered species.  It is under considerable environmental pressure from human activity.  It is also considered a God in traditional indigenous Polynesian (Hawaiian) culture.  Its preservation is paramount, both scientifically and culturally.

In Matteson’s sculpture, the ‘Io is perched on a blooming Ohia, which is the ‘Io’s nesting tree.  The Ohia is also an honored species in Hawaiian culture, the flowers used in ceremony.  It is also the subject of great environmental concern, as a fungus ravishes the big island’s Ohia forests.

Matteson was honored with the charge to celebrate both this bird and Sia’s remarkable accomplishment, which includes the contribution of indigenous wisdom in a scientific age.  I Sia Eee-oh! is a phonetic play on words for the title of this major fine art piece.  It shares the fact that we “see an ‘Io” today, because of this invaluable cross-cultural contribution from Sia.