HĀWĪ—Tiffany’s Art Agency will be hosting a solo show for Hawai‘i Island artist Melissa Chimera during the month of November. The show, entitled “Inheritance,” will be held throughout the entire month and will also feature a Collectors’ Reception from 10 a.m. to noon on Nov. 9 at the gallery in Hāwī.
After spending many years as a conservationist protecting Hawai‘i’s rare, native plant and animal species, Melissa Chimera discovered a way to combine her love of science and the natural environment with art.
The award-winning artist uses oil and mixed media to produce paintings that feature the Islands’ beloved plants and animals, including the ‘alalā, an endemic crow species that was once extinct in the wild but is currently making a comeback.
“I moved from Maui to Hawai‘i 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 Hawai‘i at Mānoa. “Since I have been witness to the disappearance of rare forest birds like the po‘ouli on Maui, the news of a pair of ‘alalā 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 Hawai‘i’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,” said Chimera. “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 and the beginning of the upheaval of the Arab world.
The authentic beauty of Chimera’s work, which has been showcased nationally and internationally, assimilates modern day topics like extinction and human migration into thoughtful compositions. Her work is a not only a gift to the eye, it allows viewers the chance to absorb a message and contemplate its greater, global meaning.
“Fundamentally, I am searching for an underlying truth behind the subject matter I am tackling, whether it’s endangered species on the brink of extinction or migrants leaving their homeland,” she said.
Tiffany’s Art Agency is open daily from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. (closed Thursdays until Dec. 2019) and showcases Hawai‘i Island’s most prominent artists who create a variety of media, including oil paintings, woodwork, sculptures, ceramics and photography. Visit tiffanysartagency.com for more information.