Na ʻAumakua on display at VAC Gallery

  • Courtesy photo "Na ʻaumakua ʻIo and Pueo," by Ken Charon.

  • Courtesy photo "‘Alala, Through The Veil," by Cheri Groom.

  • Courtesy photo "The Father Tree," by Sarah Martinsen.

The Volcano Art Center is proud to announce that its 2020 exhibition schedule will resume after many COVID-19 related disruptions. The Hawai‘i Nei Invitational Exhibition, this year titled, Na ‘Aumakua, will be on display 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Wednesday-Sunday through Sept. 13 at the VAC gallery in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park.

The multimedia exhibition showcases eight outstanding artists who were selected by members of the Three Mountain Alliance Foundation Board of Directors, a partnering group to the annual Hawai‘i Nei Art Contest celebrating Hawaii Island’s native species.


The 2019 selectees, including Kathleen Carr, Ken Charon, Phyllis Cullen, Lanaya Deily, Cherie Groom, Sarah Martinsen, Roslyn Moresh, and Claire Seastone, were asked to create works specifically for Na ‘Aumakua.

In Hawaiian mythology, an ‘aumakua is known as a family or personal god, often a deified ancestor.

As cited by Martha Warren Beckwith, “‘aumakua frequently assume the shape of sharks (all islands except Kauai), owls (as at Manoa, Oahu, and Ka‘u and Puna), hawks (Hawaii), ‘elepaio, i‘iwi, mudhens, octopuses, eels, mice, rats, dogs, caterpillars, rocks, cowries, clouds, or plants. A symbiotic relationship existed; mortals did not harm or eat ‘aumakua and ‘aumakua warned and reprimanded mortals in dreams, visions, and calls.

“The role of the ‘aumakua is often referred to as that of a guardian, helping in times of trouble and providing inspiration, strength or protection in times of need. … When a fisherman or craftsman was especially successful, credit was often given to their ‘aumakua for intervening and enabling an earthly being to develop such skill.”

Said Gallery Manager Emily C. Weiss, “The resulting body of work honors with fondness and reverence this unique Hawaiian concept, as well the physical manifestation of the form taken by each ‘aumakua. Some artists are depicting their own personal or familial ‘aumakua, while others are choosing to interpret the relationship of humans to the natural environment.”

The Na ‘Aumakua exhibition can be viewed at the VAC gallery which is currently following all CDC guidelines and social distancing protocol.

Be prepared to wear a mask and keep a safe 6-foot distance from others within the gallery.


Additionally, VAC gallery is maintaining a max occupancy of 10 people within the gallery at one time, is providing hand sanitizer at the entrance, and is regularly cleaning highly touched surfaces by VAC staff and volunteers.

For those that prefer to view the exhibition virtually it will be online at

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