HONOLULU - HONOLULU (KITV4)- AARP Hawaii estimates there are 157,000 unpaid family caregivers in Hawaii.
Through their labor of love, those caregivers help their loved ones keep Aging Well. Now there is a new exhibit at a Chinatown art gallery honoring them.
When is a wheelchair the focal point of an art exhibit? When it's one of the pieces in a show honoring family caregivers. AARP Hawaii, which sponsored the show, estimates there are 157,000 unpaid family caregivers in Hawaii.
Outreach Director Jackie Boland says, "Caregiving is hard to explain. Unless you've been through it, you don't know what It's like. What better way to try to explain the intricacies of caregiving than through art. It's not easy and you may go in with a full heart, but meanwhile, if you're trying to work full time and don't have time to do the research or you have limited funds It can be extremely stressful."
Well-known local artist Kim Taylor Reese - also volunteer board president of the Arts at MARKS Garage- says he knows that stress. "This exhibit really hits home to me because I've had a grandmother who was in a care home, and I had a lot of families who, as they've passed, we've had to take care of them."
Artist Saumolia Puapuaga submitted a painting of his father holding his niece to keep her safe in a stream. "It's shown in her facial expressions that she could trust that she was safe and loved and cared for. The piece represents caring and safety and your family relationships."
Just as beautiful as the art are the stories that accompany each piece. Reece enthuses, "It's amazing. Some of them are very uplifting and some of them are like, 'Wow, you guys plowed through this and did a great job taking care of this person.'"
Boland concludes, "It benefits everybody in our community to understand the tensions that are at play with caregiving even though it is an act of love. For the caregivers themselves, I really hope they recognize their situation and that they are not alone."
Some of the art is heart-wrenching. Some illustrate the power of hope. But all of it celebrates the unsung heroes who are caregivers.
This is at the ARTS at Mark's through November 27. Admission is free. There's also a reception on Saturday, November 20th offering refreshments, free caregiver resources, and a caregiver coloring book. Click here for more information on both the full exhibit and the Saturday reception.