Working Miracles in Art Restoration

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Kim Mosely

Ki Mosley

Occupation Artist & Art Restorer

Healing the Afflicted St. Theresa was going to pieces. The life-size statue, made of concrete and paint, had been standing at the entrance to her eponymous North Kīhei church since 1966. Anyone who stands outdoors in Kīhei for fifty years, even a saint, is likely to feel weather-beaten. By the time the church asked artist Kim Mosley to restore the statue, the divine artifact had lost several fingers. Her crucifix had crumbled, her wimple had chipped, and her roses needed resurrection. Kim stripped off the old paint, repaired the broken parts—“I had to literally build the fingers,” she says—primed and repainted the figure. The new face, still lovingly sorrowful, has a subtle blush of pep to it.

Full Palette Art restoration isn’t Kim’s main focus. She teaches painting at the Grand Wailea Resort, putting to good use her fine-art degree in painting and her post-doc study at Gadjah Mada University in Yogyakarta, Indonesia. Sculpture is her other passion. In Pietrasanta, Italy, she learned to carve marble in the classical manner. (If you’re on UH–Maui’s campus, look for the monk seal mother and pup Kim carved from a three-ton block of white New Zealand marble.) There’s something gender-bending about this five-foot-tall woman relishing her trove of chisels, air hammers, grinders and ZEC pads—and the sculptures she hauls to exhibit at the Four Seasons’ Friday Meet the Artists’ night.

Kim credits her classical training and eclectic experience (she once worked in a foundry, learning to make her own patinas) for enabling her to restore art in all kinds of media. She has revived Herb Kane bronzes at the Grand Wailea, and Anthony Quinn sculptures for Harte International Galleries.

art restoration before after

A Higher Calling After repairing St. Theresa’s effigy, Kim restored the towering mural that greets churchgoers as they arrive. Á la Leonardo da Vinci, she had to use scaffolding—the mural’s bottom edge is even with the top of her head, and the painted tiles rise to twice that height. Working in the North Kīhei sun and wind was exhausting, Kim recalls, but people would stop by while she worked, thank her, and tell her stories of how St. Theresa had saved their lives. “I was humbled,” she says.

To Frame It Another Way .  .  .  A recurring theme in Kim’s conversation is what an honor it is to restore works by other artists; you can tell by her tone that she means it. “I learn from what they’ve done,” she explains. “Anthony Quinn’s work is abstracted; I’m fascinated with his choices. Herb Kane’s sculptures have a powerful realism. Realism is more difficult, but learning about figurative sculpture makes me develop my artist’s eye—and makes me a better teacher. I tell my students, ‘You never stop learning.’”

For more on Kim’s work, visit KimMosleyCreations.net.

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