I met accomplished NWC artist Joe Adams through mutual friends earlier this week, and he invited me to attend a presentation by Maori ceramicist collective Nga Kaihanga Uku at the Clatsop Community College on Thursday, October 18. The event was super, an all-afternoon affair, facilitated by Astoria ceramicist/CCC instructor Richard Rowland, who introduced the program. The Maoris shared slideshows consisting of photo, video and audio documentation of their homes, processes, finished work, exhibitions, and influences. The format was cultural and personal exchange, toggling from the academic routine to intensely personal descriptions of the artists relationships to colonial New Zealand history, indigenous life, the land, the media they used, and the internal methods by which these and other things (like family, gender, etc.) impacted their art.
The Astoria/CCC-Maori/Nga Kaihanga Uku connection was established through programs in 2012 and 2015. It was clear that the ties between the are strengthening, becoming richer, more productive and generative, with each iteration. Joe had helped out with the production/firing of the clay created in the workshops, had friends among both crews, and made it very easy to meet the participants. I had a rollicking good chat with Wi Taepa. Turns out he spent time in the mid-90s in Santa, showed at Glenn Green Galleries, knew the folks at Shidoni, and ran in some of the same circles I did.
I was very inspired and impressed: I want to learn ceramics [!] LoL; travel to New Zealand; and jump into the CCC offerings. Tonight, Joe and I will attend the painting exhibit of Justyna Kisielewicz, “America Is a Great Place to Live.” The photo set below contains some installation shots of that show, images of the Maori collective program and a few environmental pictures of the CCC facility.
Justyna gave a very brief art talk, but the Q & A was memorable. Answering many questions from those in attendance, Justyna was refreshingly direct and energetic in her informative responses. The title of the show is not ironic. A Polish immigrant, Kisielewicz described her artistic evolution in context of the political, academic and economic circumstances she has experienced in her home country and here in the USA. She acknowledged that her transnational perspective is open to expansion, as a result of, for instance, forays into nature & outside the stereotypes (produced via TV, memes, and so on), which used to color her ideas about America, to an extent. She spoke a lot about her craft, artist processes and training. I have been to many such presentations, by artists of every description, and Justyna's stands out as one of my all-time faves, due to the inspirational message and sincerity.
Joe, Shane and I had fun mugging for each others’ photos: