Insides and Outsides by Emily McIlroy
Insides and Outsides detail by Emily McIlroy

An exhibit showcasing a body of work spanning 13 years by a University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa art and art history lecturer, Listening for a Heartbeat: Works by Emily McIlroy, runs at Windward Community College’s Gallery ʻIolani February 3–March 3, 2023.

“This exhibition is sensitive and powerful at the same time,” said Toni Martin, Windward CC art professor and Gallery ʻIolani director.

The Lilies How They Grow VII by Emily McIlroy
The Lilies How They Grow VII by Emily McIlroy

According to Emily McIlroy’s website, Listening for a Heartbeat brings together a collection of McIlroy’s mixed-media drawings and paintings, spanning the years 2008 to 2021. McIlroy’s art practice is rooted in her relationship with the natural world and fueled by internal exploration. With the deaths of her twin brother (2007), mother (2015) and father (2019), McIlroy came to see her inner realm of thoughts, memories and emotions as a wilderness—a space that harbors great danger as well as extraordinary wonder.

The works in this exhibition are McIlroy’s attempt to navigate and understand this territory. They orient her toward truths that lie outside the light of full awareness. Each piece or series of pieces arose out of inquiry into existential questions. In the years following the death of her twin, who had suffered from mental illness for many years, McIlroy was left suspended between a world she could not yet enter and a world to which she no longer felt she belonged.

The title artwork, Listening for a Heartbeat (oil and pastel on paper), says much about McIlroy’s pursuit of reconciling past with present, looking outward and inward.

Listening for a Heartbeat by Emily McIlroy
Listening for a Heartbeat by Emily McIlroy

The artist’s description reads: “And when all went quiet and we could no longer make out the sound of these murmurings, I leaned back just a little into the spine that curved against my spine, and I said to the heart outside myself, ‘Where are you?’ And the heart outside myself said, ‘I’m right here. Where are you?’ And I said, ‘I’m right here, too.’ And that’s how I knew I was alive and of the world. That I was nothing less and nothing more than everything that had already been, and everything that would ever be. Who I was was happening, and this happening could never be undone.”

McIlroy earned her BA in studio art from the University of Arizona in 2005 and her MFA in drawing and painting from UH Mānoa in 2011. She currently teaches in the drawing and painting program at UH Mānoa.

The exhibit is part of Windward CC’s 50th anniversary celebration. An artist reception is scheduled for February 3, 4–7 p.m.

Gallery hours are Monday through Friday and Sunday 1–5 p.m.

For more information, visit or call (808) 236-9155.