February 06, 2006
New Zealand Maori Weaving Exhibit in Seattle
Toi Maori: The Eternal Thread
Feb. 4 ‚Äì May 29, 2006
The Burke Museum is one of only four venues in the United States presenting Toi Maori: The Eternal Thread
, a New Zealand exhibition celebrating Maori weaving. The exhibit highlights how the art form has developed, reasserted, and reinvented itself in recent yearsfrom the finest traditional Maori kakahu
(finely woven baskets), and whariki
(floor mats), to outstanding contemporary pieces. Distinct from the better-known Maori arts of carving and ta moko (tattoo art), weaving is exclusively a womens art.
The Eternal Thread
includes work from more than 40 Maori women artists from New Zealand who use their masterful weaving techniques to create beautiful and intricate objects. Loaned by the weavers themselves, the exhibit features nearly 100 pieces, ranging from magnificent feather and flax cloaks, to finely woven baskets and outstanding pieces of contemporary fiber artswoven from unusual materials such as Emu bird feathers, copper, paper, and abalone shells.
The Maori are the indigenous people of New Zealand. The cloaks and other woven arts created by Maori women are a reflection of their deep sense of spiritual connection to their history, to the land, to their ancestors, and their acknowledgment of the importance of all living things. While Maori oral history holds that they have been on the land from the beginning of time, contemporary research suggests they arrived by boat more than 1300 years ago, after thousands of years journeying throughout Asia and the South Pacific.
The weaving of cloaks includes both prayer and ceremony as well as high artistic skill. A single cloak may take two years to weave and a lifetime to learn the techniques and rituals. Contemporary artists have begun to use non-traditional materials such as film strips and copper wire, in addition to natural fibers. The exhibit includes some innovative contemporary works mingled with the traditional.The Eternal Thread
was organized by the Pataka Museum of Arts and Culture in partnership with Toi Maori Aotearoa and Roopa Rananga Whatu o Aotearoa (the Maori weavers collective) of New Zealand. The opening of the exhibit will be accompanied by five days of artist demonstrations in weaving, carving and ta moko
the art of Maori skin carving (tattoo).Northwest Coast Robes
Feb. 4 May 29, 2006
As a complement to The Eternal Thread
, the Burke will exhibit a small selection of exquisite robes from its internationally renowned Northwest Coast art collection. The intricately woven robes highlight the longstanding sense of kinship between the Native peoples of New Zealand and the Pacific Northwest and illustrate the parallels in their weaving traditions. Examples include a mountain goat wool blanket by Bill and Fran James, Lummi, a button blanket by Elizabeth Wamiss, Kwakwakawakw, and a Ravens Tail Robe by Marie Oldfield, Haida, highlighting the fusion of ancient tradition with contemporary weaving practices and patterns. Toi Maori: The Eternal Thread
was organized by the Pataka Museum of Arts and Culture in partnership with Toi Maori Aotearoa (Maori Arts New Zealand) and Te Roopu Ranga Whatu o Aotearoa (Maori Weavers Collective of New Zealand). Sponsors:
Air New Zealand; New Zealand Consulate-General, Los Angeles; The Paul G. Allen Family Foundation; Port Blakely Tree Farms, L.P, and Blakely Pacific Ltd. (New Zealand); John and Joyce Price; and the Quest for Truth Foundation.Supporters:
D.V. & Ida McEachern Charitable Trust; Muckleshoot Indian Tribe; Northwest Association of Pacific Americans; Rosemary Horwood Trust; Seattle Christchurch Sister City Association; Suquamish Tribe; and Tulalip Tribes.
Special thanks to the University of Washingtons Department of Anthropology, Office of Minority Affairs, Polynesian Student Association, and the Burke Museums Bill Holm Center for the Study of Northwest Coast Art for assistance with hosting and publicity. Photo images courtesy of Norman Heke (New Zealand) and Robin Wright (Burke Museum).