WickstrandMuch like the unpredictable conditions of the Ka’iwi Channel, artist Susan Wickstrand adds texture to her piece for the 20th anniversary Moloka’i-2-O’ahu Paddleboard World Championships (M2O). The artist’s love of the ocean and nature is illustrated in her extraordinary collages, which showcase a host of remarkable images of landscapes and personalities captured in collaboration with many top photographers including Jeff Divine and Art Brewer.

For the 2016 M2O, Wickstrand used a photograph by Johann Meya taken in 2014 of the race’s ceremonial Pule as the focal point. The Pule is a pre-race prayer performed before each race to ask for a safe crossing for all the athletes.

“When you consider the history of paddleboarding and the upcoming anniversary of the world championship, you can feel the rich heritage of the sport and the people who love it,” said Wickstrand. “Combined with the magic of the channel, the personal connection to the water and beauty of the backdrop – I had a lot to work with. I hope people to take a couple of minutes to look at the hidden messages in the layers.  I think some of the simplest artwork can have the most meaning – something the viewer can dream into.”

“It’s hard to believe it’s been 20 years since the first time we gathered on the shores of Moloka’i in 1997 and to watch the race become a crown jewel for paddlers everywhere.   Susan’s piece elicits great depth of emotion from the race.  I love the image of George Ramos looking over the water and the ‘ahu ‘ula  (royal feathered cloak ) depicted in the M2O lettering.   I’m looking forward to this year’s celebration,” praised Mike Takahashi.

Wickstrand has been referred to as “The Queen of Collage” by Foam Magazine. For over 25 years her artwork has been featured on award winning television shows like ABC’s Emmy winning Modern Family, NBC’s Parenthood, on apparel for surf brand Rip Curl, on skate decks for skate brands and most recently as an ambassador for Sanuk Footwear. Wickstrand’s designs will debut this summer with the “Aloha Series by Susan Wickstrand” on a collection of footwear for the brand. Her work can be found at all Greenroom Galleries in Hawaii and Japan and ETSY.  She is inspired by her love for the sea, nature, family, friends and travel to faraway lands.

Wickstrand was raised in La Jolla, California and graduated from University of Southern California with a Bachelor of Fine Arts Degree.

M2O is an open-ocean endurance paddleboard challenge, featuring racers in both the prone and stand-up (SUP) divisions. Connecting the islands of Moloka’i and O’ahu, this 32-mile race crosses the Ka’iwi Channel, also known as the Moloka’i Channel. Men and women from more than 20 countries will face challenging conditions as they navigate the fastest downwind route over one of the deepest channels in the world. Top athletes typically complete the crossing in less than five hours, riding mid-channel waves that can crest more than 12 feet and carry paddlers hundreds of meters at a time.  The race starts on Kaluakoi Beach on the north shore of Moloka’i and finishes in Maunalua Bay on the south shore of O’ahu.

Founded in 1997, M2O has grown from a grassroots challenge for the legendary lifeguards and watermen of O’ahu to the premiere event for the sport of paddleboarding. The annual race is a deeply personal experience, challenging every paddler’s physical and mental endurance. Every finisher experiences an individual championship.

Valued M2O partners include Kona Longboard Island Lager, Surftech Board Manufacturing Company, Duke’s Waikiki, Garmin, Patagonia, Hawai’i Tourism Authority, Waterman’s Applied Science, Futures, Doctor Danger, Blue Rush, Bio Astin, Kona Red, SUP Think Tank, Standup Paddle Magazine, DotVision, Ocean Paddler and WND & WVS.