Melissa Chimera celebrates Hawaii’s rich ecological and anthropological diversity through art

  • Tiffany’s Art Agency will host a solo show for Hawaii Island artist Melissa Chimera during November at the gallery in Hawi. (Marie Hobro/Special to West Hawaii Today)

  • Melissa Chimera, an award-winning artist, uses oil and mixed media to produce paintings that feature the islands’ beloved plants and animals, including the ‘alala, an endemic crow species that was once extinct in the wild but is currently making a comeback featured in her painting, “The Pair.” Courtesy photo/Special to West Hawaii Today

Tiffany’s Art Agency will host a solo show for Hawaii Island artist Melissa Chimera during November.

The show, titled “Inheritance,” pieces by the award-winning artist who uses oil and mixed media to produce paintings that feature the islands’ beloved plants and animals, including the ‘alala, an endemic crow species that was once extinct in the wild but is currently making a comeback. A collectors’ reception is set 10 a.m. to noon Nov. 9 at the Hawi gallery.

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After spending many years as a conservationist protecting Hawaii’s rare, native plant and animal species, Chimera discovered a way to combine her love of science and the natural environment with art.

“I moved from Maui to Hawaii Island with my family last year, and I knew I wanted to paint a bird known only to this place,” said Chimera, who studied natural resources management and painting at the University of Hawaii at Manoa. “Since I have been witness to the disappearance of rare forest birds like the po‘ouli on Maui, the news of a pair of ‘alala in the wild tending to a nest for the first time in many years was thrilling.”

Chimera, a Honolulu native, incorporates the beauty of the islands into her work by also embracing Hawaii’s rich cultural history, including her own heritage. Her Lebanese and Filipino ancestry was recently highlighted during a solo show, “Migrant,” at the Honolulu Museum of Art. She’s also held solo shows at the Hui No‘eau Visual Arts Center on Maui and at The ARTs at Marks Garage in Honolulu.

“I began to first explore my family’s path as immigrants in my solo show ‘Agents of Change’ at the Hui No‘eau Visual Arts Center, Maui, and then most recently in my exhibition ‘Migrant’ at the Honolulu Museum of Art,” she said. “The expression of our collective memory as a nation of immigrants is as rich and storied as the biological treasures which we are likewise in danger of losing. Our natural and cultural heritage is fast disappearing and as an artist, I hope to bear witness to that which remains.”

Her most recent project was as an artist and curator for the Arab American National Museum in Michigan, where she worked on an exhibition, “The Far Shore: Navigating Homelands,” that commemorated the 100th anniversary of the end of the Great War (World War I) and the beginning of the upheaval of the Arab world.

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Tiffany’s Art Agency is open daily from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. (closed Thursdays). It showcases Hawaii Island’s most prominent artists who create a variety of media, including oil paintings, woodwork, sculptures, ceramics and photography.

Info: Visit tiffanysartagency.com.

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