Melissa Chimera studied Natural Resources Management and painting at the University of Hawai`i, a world epicenter of plant and animal extinction. She is inspired by rare species of the remote wilderness. Chimera's years as a field conservationist confirm the relative obscurity in which these life forms live. Chimera keeps a studio on Hawai`i Island where she lives with her husband and son.

Chimera is the recipient of local honors, international grants and commissions. In 2009, Chimera was commissioned with her mother Adele Ne Jame to create Inheritance: Reclaiming Land and Spirit, a joint poetry-painting project featuring rare Hawaiian species for the Sharjah Biennial 9, United Arab Emirates. In 2016, Chimera's paintings were featured in two nationwide juried shows celebrating the 100th anniversary of the National Park Service: Flora of the National Parks, Art of the Capitol, Washington D.C and Hawai`i's National Parks (Maui Arts and Cultural Center). Her latest solo exhibition Migrant at the Honolulu Museum of Art places her immigrant ancestors among shifting ecosystems which includes Hawaii's rarest species.