Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Meet the People - 20

Another in the Series Meet the People – Contemporary Maori Doing Ordinary and Extraordinary Things – Jo Tito (Taranaki, Ngati Pikiao Tuhourangi-Ngati Wahiao), grew up in the small village of Waipa, 5km south of Rotorua and now lives in Gisborne with her partner, Todd (Taranaki, Te Ati-Haunui-a-Paparangi) and two of his children. Both are fluent Maori speakers. “I learned a little Maori while I was at school – maybe an hour a week – but it wasn’t until I experienced total immersion back home in Taranaki that I became fluent. It’s definitely the best way to learn,” she says. Jo is very much driven by her passion for Maori language. It is at the root of everything she does – including in her work as an artist and photographer. “I am inspired by the patterns of nature as my ancestors were, but my work is not solely based on Maori culture. The spiral for instance, appears in my work regularly and while it is a common Maori design element, it is also seen in many other cultures. But I am very much driven by our Maori language and wherever I can incorporate this into my work I will. It’s a whole different world when your whakaaro, your way of thinking, is in Maori. This inspires me to create.”

"Kohatu (rock)" Painted rock by Jo Tito
Jo works in a number of mediums including photography, which she has been doing professionally and as a love for 15 years. Much of her artwork also focuses on natural materials like the kohatu (rock), which she hand-paints and the paper she makes from harakeke (flax). Many of her photographs are printed on her own handmade harakeke paper. “I’m passionate about the land and sustainable living; and by working in rock and flax, I feel very connected to the land and its stories,” she says. Her work has been exhibited in Rotorua, Taranaki, Gisborne, America Samoa and Arizona; and she travelled with a New Zealand delegation of artists to Palau in 2004 and American Samoa in 2008, for the International Festival of Pacific Arts. She’s won awards for both photography and fibre work; and while she was living in Taranaki, she curated an exhibition called “Wahine,” for the Taranaki District Health Board, to highlight the importance of cervical screening for women. “I love hauora (personal health and wellbeing).”

"Whariki (Mat)" Photo by Jo Tito
Factor in the writing of “Matarakau – Healing Stories of Taranaki,” a collection of Taranaki whanau stories on traditional Maori healing; research for another collection of stories looking at the effects of colonisation on indigenous peoples around the world; her own marketing business; digital storytelling, reading and self-development and you begin to see why Jo, 35, is a terrific role model for young Maori women everywhere. You can read more about her online here. - http://inspirationalwebsite.net/ Jo’s wrist moko (tattoo), shown in the top photograph, were created by Mark Kopua. The moko on her feet, legs and back (not shown) were created by Julie Kipa.

1 comment:

  1. In 2011 Jo had a work in "Uncontainable-second-nature (Te Kore-Rongo-Hungaora)" curated by Ian Clothier with an advisory panel of Nina Czegledy, Trudy Lane and Tengaruru Wineera, for ISEA 2011 Istanbul.


    or see the ISEA ISTANBUL webpage: http://isea2011.sabanciuniv.edu/other-event/uncontainable-second-nature


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