Contemporary Artist Phan Barker Exhibits “Soul Work” in Volcano Village

Volcano Art Center’s Rainforest Gallery at Niaulani will soon serve as host to an inspiring new collection of artwork entitled The Garden Within. Created by Volcano artist Phan Barker, this contemporary multimedia exhibit will be on display Saturday, May 4 through Friday, May 31, 2013, 9:00am to 4:00pm daily (closed Sundays).

Artist Phan Barker

Artist Phan Barker

An opening reception is scheduled for Saturday, May 4 from 4:00 to 6:00pm. Phan will lead an exhibit tour beginning at 5:00pm, offering insights into her technique, process and inspiration. The artist will also be available every Tuesday in May from 10:00am to noon.

The Garden Within features abstract fiber sculptures, quilts and paintings made of silk, thread, beads and wood meant to illustrate the beauty found internally as one tends to soul searching and spiritual discovery. 

“With the abundance of rain and space here in Volcano, I have been creating a flower garden with a path meandering around our property,” explains Phan. “I feel physically and mentally well working outside. But the inner work, which I call soul work, has always been very important to me. Like the outside garden, the garden within requires just as much tending, especially weeding. My artworks are metaphors that represent the garden within. The two gardens support me physically, emotionally, and spiritually; the very support one needs to become whole.”

Phan is no stranger to internal struggles. Born in Tu Chau, a Catholic Village north of Hanoi in Vietnam, she escaped to the south with her family at the time of partition in 1954. Phan emigrated to the United States in 1969, considering Vietnam to be a place of death and sorrow.

After a 23-year absence, Phan returned to her homeland in 1992 where she burned incense at her mother’s grave and visited family members she never expected to see again, including her sister, her sister’s nine children and nine grandchildren. Returning home to Kona, Phan’s overwhelming emotional response to this trip inspired a new kind of work called The White Mourning Cloth Series. One piece in this series, A Poem for My Mother, was widely exhibited across the United States as part of The Smithsonian Institution Exhibition Traveling Service.

Phan has been an active member of the Volcano community since 2000, considers Hawaii to be a healing refuge, and feels blessed by the sacred energy she feels on the Big Island.  

The Rainforest Gallery at Niaulani is located at 19-4074 Old Volcano Road in Volcano Village on Hawaii Island. For more information, visit or contact the gallery directly at (808) 967-8211 or

Volcano Art Center (VAC) is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization founded in 1974 to develop, promote and perpetuate the artistic, cultural and environmental heritage of Hawaii’s people through the arts and education.


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