“Manawa—Pacific Heartbeat” is a celebration of two extraordinary art-making cultures reaching out across the Pacific Ocean to exhibit together today. The similarities between the two groups, the Māori from New Zealand and the First Nations artists of the Pacific Northwest coast, are many and often quite astonishing. Along with stories of historical interaction, the parallel histories of these powerful societies have, in the present day, made this artistic collaboration a natural fit.
In the 1960s, the Māori and the Northwest Coast peoples were among the many aboriginal cultures around the world who began to see the vital importance of better understanding their history and documenting their own traditional culture. Spurred on by the interest and energy of the younger generation, the elders offered stories that shared the wisdom of the past and tied the present to that time. Building the foundations for the future often meant filling voids left by the devastating effects of foreign disease that had diminished the original populations and dealing with the aftermath of earlier government policies that forced assimilation and denied the established indigenous social structure. The rebuilding began by investigating history and restoring ceremonies, which returned a sense of pride and identity to the people of these first nations.
A natural extension of this rebuilding process was to visit other aboriginal nations to study their efforts in preserving language and culture and to learn from their overall successes. The Māori and the Pacific Northwest coast peoples found a natural affinity and allegiance with each other and immediately began to forge long-term bonds, which now include close friendships, travel to participate in ceremonies and shared exhibitions of their art.
“Manawa” represents only one small segment of the many interactions between aboriginal groups today that further cultural causes and possibilities for the future. The relationship between the Māori and the Northwest Coast has been active for more than twenty-five years and will likely continue for many generations.
Artists in Attendance:
Fred Graham, Sandy Adsett, Colleen Waata Urlich, Rex Homan, Norman Tait, Cheryl Samuel, Robert Davidson, Joe David, Alex Nathan, Darcy Nicholas, Gabrielle Belz, Dempsey Bob, Manos Nathan, June Northcroft Grant, Christina Wirihana, Tim Paul, Baye Riddell, Susan Point, Evelyn Vanderhoop, Isabel Rorick, Lani Hotch, Norman Jackson, William White, Stan Bevan, Derek Lardelli, Christian White, Preston Singletary, Ian-Wayne Grant, Gordon Toi Hatfield, Roi Toia, Kerry Thompson, Simon Lardelli, Lewis Gardiner, Todd Couper and Jayme Anderson.