Nicole "Keola" Gomes
Nicole “Keola” Gomes is a wood artist specializing in fine furniture and custom cabinetry. She was born and raised in Hāwī, North Kohala, where she still lives and works today. As a child, she spent countless hours in her father’s woodshop watching and helping him build finely crafted guitars and ukuleles. She saw the reverence he had for the beauty of wood and the passion he had for his craft, which after 50 years of guitar making, never got old for him.
After graduating from Kohala High School in 2002, Nicole went on to San Diego State University. While there, she serendipitously discovered there was a reputable woodworking/ furniture design program within the university’s expansive art department. She immersed herself in the hands-on learning of traditional joinery techniques and furniture design, striving to unite form and function. Being in a creative environment with artists of all disciplines was profoundly influential, and the time spent there was pivotal to Nicole’s artistic journey.
Since returning to Hawaii in 2008, Nicole has dedicated herself to the life-long pursuit of knowledge and expertise in the art of woodworking. Continuing her hands-on experience, she worked with a local furniture maker for two years and then on her own while she raised her two boys, seeking mentors along the way. After starting a custom cabinetry business with a friend, she decided to take a step back and reevaluate the direction of her career, realizing she is more of an artist than a craftsman. Though art and craft are nearly inseparable in woodworking, she recognizes each piece she creates has its own individual spirit and thrives on bringing them to life through deep listening and exploration. She now works out of her home shop, alongside her father.
When not working on commissions, Nicole enjoys showing her work at the annual Hawaii Wood Guild’s show at the Isaac’s Art Center in Waimea and the Hawaii Forest Industry Association’s annual wood show on Oahu.