Over the past ten years, our Artist-in-Residence program, which brings established Native artists to tribal reservation sites and to Evergreen to train and encourage other Native artists, has impacted a wide variety of people in a myriad of ways.
At times, the focus of the residencies was to preserve almost-lost art forms, such as Ravenstail weaving and bentwood box-making.
Through the years, residencies have included traditional and contemporary, as well as visual and performing arts. The very first Artist-in-Residence was Bruce subiyay Miller (Skokomish), who conducted a six-month long storytelling residency with the Skokomish Nation.
Participants over the years have been artists from many tribal cultures, and have ranged in age from preschool to adult. In 2005, the Longhouse established a partnership with Te Waka Toi/Creative New Zealand to fund a pilot program for Maori artists to work-in-residence here at the Longhouse; that program continues each spring, for twelve weeks. Master weaver, Christina Hurihia Wirihana, was the first Maori Artist-in-Residence to join the Longhouse in the Spring of 2006. Since then, the network and the opportunities continue to grow.
2016 Toi sgʷigʷialʔtxʷ Artist in Residence:
Rangi Kipa (Taranaki, Te Ātiawa Nui Tonu, Ngāti Maniapoto)
Rangi Kipa is an artist whose sculpture, carvings and taa moko are at the forefront of contemporary Maori art that challenges boundaries, creates dialogue, traverses the art/object divide and confronts the modern world that we live in as Māori and non-Māori.
Kipa has exhibited widely nationally and internationally and one of the finest artists and exponents of the contemporary tiki image and other contemporary adornment.
His career has included tutoring and lecturing in Maori Visual Arts at various polytechnic institutions and Massey University over the years. His pieces are held in museum collections within New Zealand and in private collections in America.
“I like to continuously push my own boundaries and challenge the status quo, artistic expression, artistic practice should reflect the realities of life. This means that I use all manner of materials as mediums for my artistic expression from natural organic resources to composite space age compounds”.
Rangi's residency at the Longhouse will continue through June, 2016.
2014 Toi sgʷigʷialʔtxʷ Artist in Residence:
Lyonel Grant (Ngāti Pikiao, Ngāti Rangiwewehi, Te Arawa)
Lyonel Grant is one of Aotearoa’s preeminent sculptors, and the designer and carver of extraordinary meeting houses such as Te Noho Kotahitanga marae at Unitec’s Owairaka campus. This wharenui whare whakairo, carved meeting house, is startlingly innovative yet is balanced by a committed return to the structural integrity of the past in which the carved poupou and heke are not mere decoration of a pre-constructed European framework, they are an integral part of the structure.
Lyonel’s complex practice spans between the traditions of whakairi rakau, arising from his training at the New Zealand Māori Arts and Crafts Institute in Rotorua and later contemporary modes of art production. It is at the complex intersections of these strands that his works both challenges and extends the categories and traditions of art practice in Aotearoa.
His other notable meeting houses are Te Matapihi o te Rangi in Tokoroa and Ihenga at the Tangatarua Marae, on the Waiariki Institute of technology’s campus in Rotorua. He has also created other works around the country and in international forums. With Damien Skinner he collaborated on the book “Ihenga: Te Haerenga Hou,” an important introduction to the evolution of Maori carving in the 20th century.
Project: Fiber Arts Studio
During his time at the Longhouse, Lyonel, along with Johnpaul Jones (Cherokee/Choctaw) co-designed, the coming Fiber Arts/Weaving Studio that will be built with funding support from the Ford Foundation. The new studio will pay architectural and artistic tribute to the Longhouse's long-term relationships with Māori artists and arts organizations. Lyonel has collaborated with carvers and weavers from our region to plan and create new work for the Fiber Arts Studio.
Longhouse International Indigenous Residency Program:
Larry McNeil Journeys to the Land of the Long White Cloud
"It was a great honor to have recently completed an Artist Residency in Aotearoa, which is the Māori name for New Zealand. It was 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 The Evergreen State College.
In my opinion, the best thing that happened as a result of the Artist Residency was the extended networking that went on between the many Māori artists, scholars, arts professionals, students and myself. In this sense, my role was that of an Indigenous artist representing North America as a kind of cultural ambassador. The networking allowed me to learn the commonalities and nuances between the Māori and the Indigenous people of the Americas. For an example, while in Whakatane, I was completely awed by Te Whare Wānanga o Awanuiārangi, one of three institutions designated as wānanga. These institutions provide an education in a Māori cultural context, under their Education Act of 1989. I was able to spend a few days with students and Tina Wirihana (the first artist to visit Evergreen through this international residency program). As a University Full Professor, I was deeply impressed by the intellectual rigor that their students brought to their studies in conjunction with artistry that can provide a large challenge to any arts curriculum. Their website states that “The formation of Awanuiārangi was an important step, which recognized the role of education in providing positive pathways for Māori development.”
If I could speak a bit more personally, I was constantly struck by how the Māori are so much like our own people on this continent. We both have a history of formidable warriors defending the homeland against foreign invaders, and are fiercest when it comes to defending families. Maybe another way of saying this is that our love for our people is fiercest of all, and it is what has allowed us to persevere against all odds and has successfully taken us into the present and is laying the groundwork for the future. And I think that being a warrior today translates to getting the best education possible and constantly defending our mutual rights, land and cultural values. I was fed many of their best delicacies and was again struck by the commonalities we share. While talking on the phone to my brother about my trip, he jokingly commented that: "either we’re the Northernmost Māori or they’re the Southernmost Tlingit!"
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 substantial logistical planning. There were also many people behind the scenes who had critical input into the residencies, like: Sandy Adsett, Natalie Robertson, Takirirangi Smith, Bob Janke, June Grant, John Miller, Arnold Wilson, Megan Tamati- Quennell, among others. (Please excuse me if I don’t name them all here.)
I am constantly reminded that the arts of a culture are a manifestation of its vitality and sustainability. Art is often an indicator of strength, intellectual abilities and reinforces the spiritual values that are inherent to the peoples that have inhabited the land since ancient times. In other words, art and culture are one, and to nurture one is to nurture the other. It is clear that this is also the great commonality that links the Māori to the Indigenous people of the Americas, and we can share our strengths with each other. It was clear that both Te Waka Toi/Creative New Zealand and the Longhouse Education and Cultural Center are acutely aware of these sensibilities and formulate their missions accordingly.
There is nothing that can replace face to face personal interactions, and that is the forte of the Artist’s Residency. I thought that a really great part of the residency was the ability to travel around the country and to visit a very diverse group of artists, schools, faculty and arts administrators. For example, since I work with photography, new digital media and printmaking, it was great to interact with Māori artists doing the same thing and with other media. It was good to compare notes and see the challenges that we both face and the kinds of creative problem-solving we do in order to succeed as artists. The same goes with being a scholar, and learning the nuances of the challenges we both have to overcome in order to advance in an academic setting. It is a huge challenge to succeed in an academic setting when one is an artist and scholar both in Aotearoa and in America. It was good to “compare notes” and to reinforce our mutual strategies for success. It was wise for both arts organizations to emphasize the strengthening of our intercultural relationships and to do it in the manner of both of our ancient ancestors; to act as both formal and informal hosts and guests. Our mutual protocols help ensure that the proper kinds of relationships continue to be nurtured.
Of course, part of my residency had to do with creating new work, which gave me special satisfaction. And as a photographer, new media and printmaking artist, one of my favorite strategies is to simply travel to different communities to make photographs and images that reflect my own visual aesthetic and unique sensibilities. In other words, I went with a propensity for making art in a specific manner, but kept an open mind about discovering what may reveal itself on the special journey. It was a delicate act to make art that comes from my own background; and any art that is made will be my interpretation of the interactions I shared while there.
One of the fun aspects was networking via Facebook with many of the people I met along the journey and sharing snapshots of events, friends and art. It became an informal scrapbook that also served as a visual reminder of what happened with who, when and where. 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 niece, 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.
The art residency was a challenging, wonderful 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. I am very honored to play a role with continuing this very enlightening, creative and empowering set of art residencies.
Gunalsheesh, Thank you everyone."
—Larry McNeil (Tlingit/Nisga’a)