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Hawaii’s Saint Damien inspires art, artists and aloha shirts

Saint_Damien_Hawaii_art_aloha_shirtsThe beauty of the Honolulu Printmakers exhibit—which incorporates the works of 23 Hawaii-based printmakers—is in each artist’s expression and interpretation of the Belgian priest. The prints are made more meaningful by the fact that a few of the artists have family members who were former Kalaupapa patients.

The Cathedral Gallery also sells an assortment of other Damien-related souvenirs, including bookmarkers, postcards, wooden sculptures and Tori Richard aloha shirts and dresses featuring images of Damien.

The Honolulu Printmakers' exhibit is on display until Nov. 3.

[The Cathedral Gallery, Cathedral of Our Lady of Peace, 1184 Bishop St., Fort Street Mall, Honolulu. Call (808) 536-7036, (808) 585-3311 or Toll free at (800) 530-1790.]

Saint_Damien_Hawaii_art_aloha_shirtsBig Island mixed-media artist Dietrich Varez teamed up with Hawaii apparel retailer Reyn Spooner to create the “Damien Sainthood” aloha shirt, honoring Molokai’s beloved priest.

“I like Damien because he is a good guy,” Varez says. “To live the golden rule is the supreme statement. Damien gave his life to help the people and he didn’t need to do that. He gave himself to the Hawaiian people.”

The limited edition “Damien Sainthood” aloha shirts are available in two styles (pullover and button-front style) and four colors (navy, red, natural and charcoal).

Click here to purchase Varez’s aloha shirts online.

Saint_Damien_Hawaii_art_aloha_shirtsVarez also created block prints of Damien and Mother Marianne Cope, a Franciscan nun who answered King David Kalakaua’s call to help Hawaii’s leprosy patients in Honolulu. Cope later moved to Kalaupapa to care for Damien, who was ill with Hansen’s disease. Like Damien, she cared for Kalaupapa’s patients and is on the path to sainthood. The block prints are available online at Volcano National Park Art Center or by visiting Varez’s Web site.

To learn more about the history of Saint Damien, click here for a feature on his life and long road to sainthood from HAWAII Magazine's September/October 2009 issue.

Photos of Maria Lee and her monoprint by Sherie Char (pg. 1); “scary” by Maria Lee, permit sign in Kalaupapa by Sherie Char, “Arrival: There Will Be Law in This Place” by Margaret Barnaby (pg. 2); “Makua Kane Damien” by Nancy Vilhauer (top, pg. 3), close-up image of aloha shirt courtesy of Reyn Spooner (above, pg. 3), block print of Mother Marianne Cope by Dietrich Varez (right).
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Check out these related HawaiiMagazine.com posts:
Hawaii’s Saint Damien celebrated. Relic now on permanent display here.
Pope clears Father Damien for sainthood
Father Damien’s sainthood: Here's the complete TV and relic tour schedule

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