By Cameron Enomoto | Staff Writer

The Koa Gallery at Kapiʻolani Community College was first installed in 1987. It is a place for artists to come together and express their creativity, vulnerability, and insight through various mediums. Throughout the years, the gallery has featured multiple works, highlighting those from communities within Oceania and the Asia-Pacific region.

Carol Sakihara, Breathe (2021) (Photo by Cameron Enomoto)

Under the name aʻo aku, aʻo mai, the Koa Gallery began a yearlong partnership with ARS Cafe to perpetuate the importance of education and community in light of the ongoing global pandemic. The exhibition series began with its first installments on April 5, 2021 and will continue until April 5, 2022. Since ARS Cafe opened in 2016 on Monsarrat Avenue, the cafe has been dedicated to not only providing high-quality coffee and baked goods but also a means for people to be inspired by local artists and their exhibitions.

The chef and owner of the cafe, Nori Sakamoto, invited arts advocates John Koga and Lawrence Seward to organize exhibits for the public to enjoy when they first opened their doors and have continued to showcase various artwork over the years. The fifth exhibition in the yearlong series at ARS Cafe featured sculptures by Kapiʻolani Community College’s Carol Sakihara and Jae Stableford.

Jae Stableford, Her Story (2021) (Photo by Cameron Enomoto)

Sakihara has been teaching at KCC since 2007 and oversees courses related to sculpting and three-dimensional composition. Her recent works “Reframing” and “Breathe,” take into consideration the many events that have taken place during COVID and are handcrafted pieces utilizing copper, wood, firebrick, pumice, and bronze casting grains.

Stableford is also an artist and professor at KCC that teaches sculpture and design. Her recent works, “Medical Thumb Brace-V2″ and “Her Story,” are a reflection of her past and the pursuit of happiness. She described these subjects as “fragmentary passages that exist in the middle spaces of all our lives.” The materials explored in these pieces include brass, paper mache, and found objects.

“Previously, I studied hands-on art forms and computer graphic design so I understand both aspects,” Stableford said. “Though I prefer more hands-on artwork.”

Since the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic, the Koa Gallery has been closed to the public. Many students have also had to take online classes in place of in-person ones. As a result, the number of people on campus has decreased significantly, and there are limited opportunities to showcase artwork.

“I was inspired by other artwork and I learned a lot from them,” said Stableford, who enjoyed viewing the various exhibits at the Koa Gallery. “I think my knowledge of art is very limited so it is encouraging to see other artwork and improve my sense of creativity from that.”

Stableford, along with many other students and faculty, remain hopeful that the Koa Gallery will open its doors again, and they are exploring new opportunities to create and share art in the meantime. 

According to their website, the ARS Cafe will continue its yearlong partnership with KCC and feature installments of work created by an educator and a student. For more information on the exhibits, visit the ARS cafe website, and to learn more about the Koa Gallery and other artwork on campus visit the link here.