Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Sneak Preview! Face the Tiki

This is a Marquesan style tiki, based on the tikis created by the people of the Marquesas Islands (related to the Maori).

Another tiki painting using these stylized features can be found in my triptych, Something Tiki This Way Comes (the yellow tiki with the blue background).

I really wanted to go more abstract with this painting--more expressive colors and lines, especially since the last painting was more controlled. I figure if I'm going to use a gooey liquid medium (made the gooier by the addition of a molding paste for luscious texture), I might as well cut loose and see what happens. I enjoyed a previous venture into this style with my painting of Chaos/Control, so heck, why not with tikis, since they lend themselves to this sort of playfulness and passion.

I also wanted to work on facial features that weren't European or East Asian, but more South Asian and Pacific Islander. It's a relief to work with a broad nose and thick lips--to delight in the features of all peoples (even if it's abstracted like it is in this painting), especially those that look more like me.

During my research in to tiki, I found a site that discussed the ta moko, or facial tattoos, of the Maori. (I find the designs beautiful, but have refrained from using them in my work because it's been expressed by the Maori that not only are each moko as unique as a fingerprint, but to copy or use them without their permission is considered theft. I can respect that--it's not an equal artistic exchange if they're fighting for recognition of their culture, history, and lands). One of the comments made by the owner of the site about a portrait of a Maori chieftain as compared to a contemporary photo of a Maori, were the "refined" features of the chief and the peoples of old.

What made the features more refined? A narrower nose and thinner lips were pointed out. Hm.

It's nothing new that we project ourselves onto what we see and I think a portrait of a Maori painted by an European will probably make the man look more European! So what passes as refined--versus what, rough? vulgar?--is in fact one of those prejudices that we don't notice or question.

I want to share the beauty I see in people, in everything, as they are: from their standpoint. Of course, I'm doing this through art--a roundabout but ultimately straightforward path to the deeper truth that at our core, we are gorgeous.

Thanks for being alive with me.

Take care,

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