Until the first accredited toi iho (Maori Made) artists roll out, Te Ara Whakarei or lifetime holders of toi iho are the only artists who can legitimately use the toi iho Maori trademark of quality and authenticity.
Clay sculpture artists, Manos Nathan (Te Roroa, Ngatiwhatua, Ngapuhi) (pictured) and Colleen Urlich are Te Ara Whakarei toi iho artists who will take part in an exhibition at the Quintana Gallery, Portland and Clatsop Community College Gallery, Astoria in the US late March. International participation “continues to strengthen and celebrate the network of Indigenous artists from around the Pacific rim,” says Urlich.
In 1995 a network, initially built on individual friendships among indigenous artists, widened significantly during the first International Indigenous Artists Symposium in New Zealand. This further extended to Evergreen College, Washington State and Hawaii where symposiums have since been hosted. Continuing interaction among the artists from the Pacific rim, and participation in each other’s significant cross-cultural international exhibitions, festivals, and workshops, has established a robust dialogue and indigenous art community that supports increasing depths of perception and commitment to their various art forms.
The pair have been busily firing new works in taking part in a presentation but will also play a role in the advocacy of toi iho. “This is an ideal opportunity to do the toi iho advocacy thing; we meet with people from the Halley Ford Museum, the Portland Art Museum, and the Native American Arts Council. A number of our international indigenous artists network are supportive and we will direct people to the toi iho website of course,” says Nathan.
Both Urlich and Nathan are represented by The Spirit Wrestler Gallery a leading contemporary fine art gallery representing master Inuit, Northwest Coast and Maori artists in Vancouver. The gallery focuses on exhibitions that showcase contemporary directions in aboriginal art, including cross-cultural communication, the use of new materials (such as glass and metal), and modern interpretations of shamanism, environmental concerns, andother issues pertaining to the changing world.
The cross-cultural connection between aboriginal artists and has built the Spirit Wrestler’s international reputation and its philosophy according to its founders : “The world is becoming increasingly smaller as artists fly in to attend overseas conferences, cultural gatherings, and artist workshops. Many of these artists are participating in art collaborations or securing international commissions. Artists communicate through their art – bridging frontiers,languages and cultural boundaries. These lines are now becoming blurred as cultures also often share similar techniques, subject matter and designs.” ␣
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