Long Live the Ancient Trees that Perpetuate Life Throughout All Time!

 An International Traveling Exhibition 
by Calley O'Neill and the Rama Team, Featuring Rama, the Artist Elephant
Speaking Passionately on Behalf of Those who Cannot Speak
by Calley O’Neill and Rama the Elephant with Jeb Barsh
KOA (Acacia Koa) Legume Family, Least Concern. Koa means bold, mighty, fearless, valiant, courageous.  Koa is one of two dominant beloved endemic canopy trees found on the six major Hawaiian Islands, the other being Ohi’a (Metrosideros polymorpha).  Koa lives in mesic forests throughout a wide range of habitats and elevations from approximately 350’ up to 7,550’. Koa forests have been reduced to a fraction of their original area.  More than 50% and up to 90% of native koa forests have been destroyed due to logging, destruction of the forest by animals especially cattle, horses, goats, and pigs, which decimate seedlings and young trees.  Other major threats include invasive insects, invasive plants, and fire.  Over the last 250 years, humans have introduced more than 1,000 alien plants that have naturalized. Introduced plants far outnumber native biodiversity, resulting in almost certain irreversible damage to the native forest ecosystems.  Koa is one of the most expensive, beautiful and cherished hardwoods in the world.  Koa has been mined from Hawaiian forests for over 100 years, with extensive areas being converted to grazing lands.  Given that koa is of inestimable ecological, cultural, spiritual, aesthetic, and economic importance, there is substantial interest in restoration of the koa forests.  Massive efforts are needed to protect existing forest remnants, and replant forests that have been destroyed. 

This painting depicts KEKOA, a huge magnificent sole koa tree, which was carbon dated at over 500 years old. To behold the Ancient Koa is to behold a powerful life force.  It was deeply moving. 

WE NEED TO RESTORE THE FORESTS!  Called virgin forests, ancient woodlands, forests primeval, and first growth forests, these native forests are the lungs of the Earth ~ our external lungs.  They are no less our lungs than our inner lungs.  

The forests of Hawai’i are beloved realms, sanctuaries of ancient splendor, power, peace, and renewal.  They bring forth the rain, build and retain living complex soils, protect the reefs by preventing erosion, sequester an untold amount of carbon, ameliorate climate change, purify the air, provide habitats for wildlife, protect the watersheds, and recharge the aquifers. 

In essence, they perpetuate life.  

Now we must perpetuate the forests.  The forests are known to be kupuna ~ our ancestors.  They came before us and created the atmosphere of life, the rains that bring life, and the soils that perpetuate the life of the land. 

We thank Kumu Kehau Hori for the painting’s title.

Without healthy forests, the Earth cannot sustain life.
This painting is a clarion call for immediate international protection 
of all first growth forests and all ancient trees.

"The world needs to wake up and protect the Amazon, which contains the forest and river spirits that keep the global ecosystem in balance. The rainforest is the lungs and heart of the world. If we don't protect the Amazon, we're all in trouble!"
                                                              – Manari Ushigua, President of the Sápara Nationality of Ecuador
Manawai - He Wa'a He Moku
Manawai - He Wa'a He MokuManawai - He Wa'a He MokuManawai - He Wa'a He Moku
Manawai - He Wa'a He Moku
Technically, this painting is unique among all the paintings, as Calley applied very little paint to the original background canvas. Rather, she etched into Rama's original painting.   She continuously sharpened a dental pick to needle sharpness and etched every line of the tree. The only added paint is in the borders.  Every time Calley had a thought to paint an aspect of the tree, her guidance prompted, 'No, no! No paint!  Etch!"

The difference in richness of the colors comes from the finish glaze that Calley applies to all the paintings. They are, after all, non-toxic children's tempra paints, which would fade and chip without a protective glaze.  Here is a collection of progress photos.
E OLA MAU LOA, NA LA’AUKUMU KAHIKO! Long Live the Ancient Trees that Perpetuate Life Throughout All Time!  Completed by Calley O'Neill by etching the tree with a dental pick.
Original background by Calley O'Neill and Rama the Elephant before Calley etched the tree.
Look closely at the canvas painted by Rama, and you will see the spirit of the tree, left there by Rama himself.