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Alex Swiftwater McCarty

A visiting Native American artist has continued the work of one of his tutors during a visit to Te Wānanga o Aotearoa.

Alex Swiftwater McCarty of the Makah people of the Pacific North-West, spent three days at Toimairangi in Heretaunga last week, showing toi tauira the finer points of printmaking and delivering lectures on his people and their art.

He was building on the work of fellow Native American artist Joe Feddersen who - in 2011 - helped Rauangi staff member Michelle Mataira to establish a printmaking press within Toimairangi.

Art kaiako Chris Bryant says the work of both Joe and Alex show the “intergenerational reciprocity” which is taking place between Māori and Native American artists.

“They are part of an intergenerational whanau of artists,” he says.

“Our tauira realise they are part of a whanau of artists and that’s important for them to understand.”

Alex is visiting New Zealand on the Toi Sqwigwialtxw (Squig-foy-out) Residency, which honours the relationship between Māori artists and the Longhouse Education and Cultural Centre in Washington State. Sqwigwialtxw is the name of the Longhouse in South Puget Sound Salish and means ‘The House of Welcome’. It opened in 1995 at The Evergreen State College in Olympia, Washington and has a mission to promote indigenous arts and cultures.

Alex says the relationship between the Longhouse and Toi Māori is a strong and collaborative one.

He is currently working with tohunga whakairo, Lyonel Grant, on a wharenui – longhouse carving project to create a house of weaving and has previously worked with artist Rangi Kipa.

Alex says visiting places such as Toimairangi will help make him a better artist.

“It fits really well with my artistic goals,” he says.

“It’s brought something that was quite abstract to me and made it quite concrete. To be here, it pushes me even more.”

Arts kaiako Chris Bryant says hosting artists such as Alex teaches tauira many important lessons.

“For one, it gives them greater perspective, looking at other artists who are like them but are from another place,” he says.

“They are honoured someone has come from the other side of the world to work with them directly. A lot of comparisons are being made and quite long lasting relationships are formed.”

Tauira also learn that whakawhanautanga and manaakitanga are key aspects within Te Wānanga o Aotearoa and looking after manuhiri is an important part of what they do.

Senior Rauangi Kaiako Sandy Adsett was instrumental in establishing the residency with Longhouse director Tina Kuckkahn-Miller and others in 2006.

Toimairangi has since hosted artists in residence from Hawaii and North America.

Later this month, several Te Wānanga o Aotearoa kaimahi and Maunga Kura Toi graduates will visit the Longhouse during the Tears of DukwibahL Gathering of International Indigenous Visual Artists from the Pacific Rim.

The gathering will feature more than 80 indigenous artists who will create, learn, teach and share over nine days.

Those attending are Sandy Adsett, Michelle Mataira, Regan Balzer, Margie Aull, Tracey Morgan, Wi Taepa, Hiwirori Maynard, Shanon Hawea, Ana Adsett and Wilray Price.

The gathering takes place from 23 August to 1 September.

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Published On: 16 Aug, 2017

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