Volcano Art Center Featured Artists

Kamamalu, Kira

Kira Kamamalu Lee was born in Hilo Hawaii in 1983. Surrounded by the intense interest in Hawaiian culture by her family and raised in the traditions passed down through her Father’s family, Kira has an inherent interest in preserving Hawaiian history and continuing Hawaiian culture.
Kira’s passion for art came at a very young age but not specifically in paintings. Her painting interest began after college while attending a painting workshop in Tuscany with her Aunt. This interest grew into an all-out quest for study in the area of painting. Kira studied under the mentorship of Big Island artist Vicki Penney-Rohner and a few years later, spent a year abroad in Europe studying the masters and working on her skill. While abroad, Kira’s works were accepted into the Gallery D’Assadi in Nyon, Switzerland. Upon returning from her studies abroad, Kira brought her new art education home to adapt it to the subject that fueled her creative force- her culture.
Working in a truly unique style, ‘Kira works with a palette knife to produce her figures. Primarily a figure artist, Kira’s figures capture the spirituality and emotion of her subjects- the people of Hawaii. Each of her pieces covers a concept of Hawaiian culture found in genealogies, chants, myths, prayers and traditions. Each painting comes with a written description of these historically accurate details seen in the individual work.
Kira currently lives on the Kona side of the Big Island with her Fiancé, Mick Ventrella. Mick is a skilled woodworker and makes all of the Koa frames that are included with each painting. He frames most of the works in a traditional Hawaiian style of framing known for its flat front resulting in maximum exposure to the grain of the wood. Each frame is a piece of art as well.