A single mum who dropped out of high school and never thought higher education was for her has not only completed a degree in Māori art but is now preparing for her first solo exhibition in Kirikiriroa.
Jordyn Daniels (Ngāi Tahu) says she still finds it hard to believe she has achieved what she has.
“I was not on a good track in my youth,” she says.
“I dropped out of high school at 16, but now, holy crap. I paint every day, people from other countries have bought my art, how is that even where my life is, it’s insane.”
Jordyn completed the Maunga Kura Toi Rauangi – Bachelor of Māori Art at Te Wānanga o Aotearoa after initially beginning to study raranga.
“I studied raranga for two years then had the opportunity to change to painting and it was one of the best decisions of my life, 100%. I never thought I’d be a painter. I didn’t expect to fall in love with painting but it opened up different ways to tell the stories I want to tell. It has completely changed my life and this is what I will be doing for the rest of my life.”
Jordyn says while she has taken part in group exhibitions, hosting her own solo exhibition is at a whole new level.
“It’s that imposter syndrome things lots of artists feel. You never see your work as good enough. I’m still freaking out to be honest. I’ve been in plenty of group shows so I’ve had experience installing exhibitions before, but this time it’s all mine.”
Just days ahead of the opening, Jordyn says she is happy with how the exhibition is shaping up.
“I had some paintings ready for an exhibition and I thought I’d have a year to prepare, but a couple of months ago I was told about this opportunity so I’m stoked I managed to get it done. I do absolutely love pressure but I can only do what I can do but I’m definitely happy with the exhibition.”
The exhibition is titled Aho Hīnātore – Paintings by Jordyn Daniels and opens on 19 June at the Meteor Theatre in Hamilton and runs until 16 July.
Aho Hīnātore means luminescence and the paintings are inspired by atua wāhine and celebrates the divine light of feminine essence and creation. They shows values such as courage, transformation, overcoming, diversity and control over destiny, through a mana wāhine lens.
All those things have been evident in Jordyn’s artistic journey, from high school drop out to exhibiting artist, and something she wants to pass on to her daughter.
She will be at the opening, along with her friends, who will also bring their children.
“They will see that they can do this, it is a reality, you can actually do this.”
And Jordyn’s not done with her own learning either.
“My goal is to teach art, to teach toi Māori in the public sector but I will definitely be doing my masters too.”