Sunday, May 17, 2009

McNeil Selected for Artist Residency in Aotearoa, New Zealand

It is completely my honor to be recently chosen to participate in an Artist Residency in Aotearoa, which is the Māori name for New Zealand. It is a month-long artist residency that was sponsored and organized via a partnership between Te Waka Toi /Creative New Zealand and the Longhouse Education and Cultural Center, The House of Welcome at Evergreen College.

I am very excited at the idea of participating in this international indigenous cultural exchange! I would like to thank all of the people at Te Waka Toi and the Evergreen Longhouse for their confidence in my ability to fulfill the ideals of this residency. Tina Kuckkahn, the Director of the Longhouse and Puawai Cairns, the Policy and Projects Adviser at Māori Arts have been my primary contact people with the logistical planning, which has been quite substantial. There were so many people behind the scenes who had critical input into the residencies, like Sandy Adsett, and so many others. Please excuse me if I don't name them all here. I'll be posting more information later. Thank you Te Waka Toi and the Longhouse for your very kind generosity and insightful planning with this residency, it is sincerely appreciated.

On my end, it was a true group effort that propelled me on my way, starting with my wife Debi, who is always so supportive of everything I do, including releasing me from my responsibilities as a father and husband for a month! My sisters Helen and Patty made me a beautiful Dakl’aweidi tunic with wonderful Keet designs, and my nice Jessica (a Freshman in college who is very good at speaking the Tlingit language) helped with the Dakl’aweidi songs. We believe that our songs are important too, because they are a living manifestation of our ancient history and ancestors.

I am looking forward to what promises to be creative, challenging and a great learning experience. Not to mention fun. I really love the idea that art drives just about everything associated with this residency and that there is a powerful indigenous component from both the hosts and guest artists.

Gunalsheesh, Thank you everyone.

About the Residency

Te Waka Toi, the Māori arts board of Creative New Zealand, is responsible for developing Māori arts and artists. It develops initiatives and delivers tailored programs and is the branch of the New Zealand government that supports Māori art and culture

The Longhouse has enjoyed a successful partnership with Te Waka Toi /Creative New Zealand for the past several years. They began a three-year pilot project in which Te Waka Toi sent a Māori artist to spend ten weeks in residence at the Longhouse during Spring Quarter of each year. They had been very honored to host artists of extremely high caliber from Aotearoa: Christina (Tina) Wirihana (2006), Takirirangi Smith (2007) and June Northcroft Grant (2008).

Te Waka Toi wishes to reciprocate the hospitality that the Longhouse’s community of artists has demonstrated toward the Māori people by inviting a Native artist from the Longhouse’s community to participate in the residency in New Zealand.

Both Te Waka Toi and the Longhouse expressed an interest in hosting an established artist who can represent him or herself artistically and culturally in a variety of cultural and academic (higher education) settings. They also mentioned that if the artist were able to bring new techniques or explore new types of media with Māori artists, it would be particularly well received.

The Longhouse Advisory Board has added the following criteria for a successful candidate’s application:
  1. The artist will be an ambassador on behalf of the Longhouse’s community, as well as the artist’s own unique heritage; therefore, it is important that the artist be able to represent his/her cultural heritage through appropriate protocol, while at the same time representing the diverse community of the Longhouse. For example, the exchange of wiata, or tribal songs, is an important aspect of Māori culture.
  2. The artist will be asked to interact within a variety of tribal and academic environments. Flexibility, a willingness to work with teams of artists and groups, and an open, diplomatic personality will be keys to a successful residency.
  3. Although the artist need not be a faculty member, the artist should have the ability to lecture in academic settings and can support their thesis through the work.
  4. All of the Māori artists who have been hosted by the Longhouse have been of national stature and the Longhouse wished to reciprocate at a similar level of artistic excellence.
  5. The artist should be able to produce a body of work within the time frame of the residency.
  6. The artist will be representing many people on their journey and the Longhouse community will want to be connected with what is happening; therefore, they asked that the artist be technologically literate and keep the community informed through travel blogs or other means of documentation for sharing across the miles. Upon their return, the artist will be asked to present in various settings (Longhouse community dinner, tribal and urban settings, etc). It will be important to document and share the experiences of this historic exchange (I am writing this at the airport just prior to my departure, so I am starting my part of this residency now!).
I applied to the Longhouse for the Residency and my application was then forwarded to Te Waka Toi, where they did a jurying process too.

In the meantime, it's off to Aotearoa!

Gunalsheesh Again, Thank you.


Anonymous said...

Have you seen this judging from your blog i thought you might like it

susana said...

Thats very nice photography....

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