Annual WHCHC exhibit creates healthy environment for patients while offering platform for the creative

  • ”The Garden of Zoe” by artist Cristina Lindborg, 2016. The fifth annual Art is Healing Juried Exhibition’s opening reception is Oct. 25. (West Hawaii Community Health Center/Courtesy Photo)

  • Miho Morinoue, left, and Gerald Lucena will be this year’s jurors at the fifth annual Art is Healing Juried Exhibition on Oct. 25. The exhibition is a collaboration between West Hawaii Community Health Center and the Donkey Mill Art Center. (Makoto Sturdy/Courtesy Photo)

KAILUA-KONA — There are just a couple more days left for artists on the Big Island to become a part of this year’s Art is Healing Juried Exhibition.

The opening reception for the fifth annual display will be held Oct. 25 at West Hawaii Community Health Center’s Kealakehe campus, and artists have until Friday to submit their work. The annual exhibition has helped the center create a comforting environment in which patients can heal, but it’s also led to the discovery of unknown artists in years past, like Violet Leihulu Mamac.


“Last year, we had (Mamac) who had never entered any artwork in an exhibition before, but had been painting her entire life, and had just kind of stockpiled it,” said Natasha Ala, West Hawaii Community Health Center director of marketing and development. “And her daughter pushed her to enter, and she did, and she won an award. And Kumu Keala Ching was one of our jurors last year, and he spent so much time ranting and raving over her artwork, and she had never displayed her artwork before, so it was just one of those cool, chicken-skin moments.”

Mamac’s work is now a part of West Hawaii Community Health Center’s permanent collection.

The exhibition is a collaborative effort between the health center and the Donkey Mill Art Center. The jurors for this year’s exhibition are local artists Miho Morinoue and Gerald Lucena. Several pieces of art are selected every year by the jurors for the Jurors’ Choice Awards.

“They’re going on a theme of how nature inspires artists through reflection and creation of work that creates healing,” Ala said. “They say nature holds the key to our aesthetic, intellectual, cognitive and even spiritual satisfaction. So their prompt is: What special place in nature inspires your work and how did it influence your artistic choices? So they’re really asking artists this year to reflect on how nature is used as a subject of healing for artists.”

The exhibition is open to all Big Island artists, and the artwork can be in the form of painting, drawing, mixed media, fiber, tapestry and sculptural wall relief work.

All artwork submitted for the exhibition must be hand-delivered to the West Hawaii Community Health Center’s Kealakehe location at 74-5214 Keanalehu Drive by 3 p.m. Friday. There is a $15 per submission fee for the artists, and artists are limited to two submissions.

All the art in the exhibition is for sale, with half the proceeds going toward the artist and the other half to the West Hawaii Community Health Center. The art that’s purchased is then given back to the health center and gets the chance to be displayed to patients and staff for years to come.

“What we do is a really unique situation,” Ala said.

Ala said the art being at the health center is for the benefit of the patients, who normally would not have the chance to visit an art museum or art exhibit. She said exposing the patients to quality artwork in a health care setting can help their healing process move along at a faster pace.

She said after four years of the Art is Healing Juried Exhibition, more than 70 pieces of artwork have been added to the health center’s permanent collection.


The collection is spread out over West Hawaii Community Health Center’s five locations — in Kailua-Kona, Kealakehe, Waikoloa Village and two Kealakekua centers.

“And our staff is absolutely loving it, too. They get very possessive about these paintings that are installed near their offices,” Ala said. “It’s cool to see how this has evolved over the years.”

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