Artist Katie O’Brien discovered art through Easter Seals Hawaii


ESH participant and artist Katie O’Brien draws her inspiration from nature and photographs that she takes.

Easter Seals Hawaii (ESH) participant Katie O’Brien has been creating things with her hands since she was a baby. From finger painting to clay figures, she cultivated a sense of creativity and fascination with art. Now 28-years-old, she is a hula dancing, painter who draws from nature to produce colorful artworks on canvas.

Katie’s many talents initially developed from therapy she received at Easter Seals Hawaii. Katie’s mother, a Marketing Director at Kamehameha Schools, Val O’Brien, said, “Katie was born with Congenital Cytomegalovirus resulting in deafness, developmental delays, down syndrome, cerebral palsy, drooling and seizures she has never been stopped from doing many things.” Through therapy to improve her motor skills, Katie picked up photography and an artistic eye. Intermediate teacher Tom Graham from the Hawaii Center for the Deaf and Blind introduced her to painting. Eventually, she started to paint images from her photographs. “She tends to take photos and paint many flowers and nature from her dog to the blow hole near Makapu’u,” said her mother.


Although born with developmental delays, Katie did not stop expressing herself.

While Katie attended the ESH Youth Services, zoo fence artist and then ESH employee, Lydia Chadwick, captured a new side of Katie’s artistic abilities. “Katie painted in all mediums, made collages and other interesting art images from whatever Easter Seals Hawaii had on campus and used them in backgrounds for different programs they had,” said O’Brien.


Through Easter Seals Hawaii, Katie developed her artistic ability and continues to grow as an artist.

Val O’Brien adds that Katie’s talents may be hereditary. “My father, whom she never met, Jozef Satin, was an accomplished artist who has paintings in galleries around the world. Katie was blessed in getting some of his genes in the creative part of her brain,” said O’Brien.  It may just be Katie’s calling to follow her grandfather’s footsteps; she dreams of traveling the world and publishing a book on her travels through art.

Katie has established herself as a well-known, talented artist in Hawaii. She has attended Kapiolani Community College, where she worked in a variety of media, including watercolor, acrylic, oil painting and pottery; she is one of the original Very Special Artists (VSA), a federal program geared to promote awareness and the value of art produced by people with disabilities.



Katie’s artwork is now on the official Easter Seals Hawaii stamps.

Today, Katie still enjoys developing her skills and socializing with friends at ESH’s Adult Day Health. Her artwork is also on the Easter Seals Hawaii stamps. Katie also does weaving with VSA at the Honolulu Academy of Art, where you can meet her and watch her weave on Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m.

ESH strives to empower participants to be happy, independent and successful like Katie. It is compassionate and generous people like you that give our participants the opportunities to learn, grow and succeed. Keiki and adults throughout our islands are waiting for their chance at services and programs that ESH provides. Make a difference and change a life here.


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