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Volcanic Visions:

Barkcloth Art of the Ömie

September 7 - October 5, 2013

Cavin-Morris Gallery New York, New York 1 • Volcanic Visions: Barkcloth Art of the Ömie


A Special Thank You to

Brennan King & Ömie Artists and People of the Ömie

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Volcanic Visions: Barkcloth Art of the Ömie September 7 - October 5, 2013

Ultimately it seems that some of the greatest art in the world concerns itself on some level with the forces of Nature, and Nature itself is part of Place. We are always fascinated by work that speaks traditional languages in individualistic and idiosyncratic ways. The bark paintings and acrylic contemporary works by Aboriginal peoples of Australia are very good examples of this. Filled with the inherent powers of the Dreamtime they also engage on an aesthetic level of abstraction enhanced completely by individual vision and creative process. It is this spirit of indigenous vision that speaks so eloquently to our Western eyes that compels us to present these dramatically arresting works on barkcloth called nioge by the Ömie people of New Guinea. The same eye, the same hand, the same intentions govern the imagery whether made for personal use or to be sent out into the world as emissaries of self-pronouncement and survival. They are like music, like songs. They are sung indigenously but are shaped by the personalities and styles of their individual makers. Here is the title of one drawing in the exhibition by Fate Savari: Ceremonial white shell pendant necklace (with spots of the wood boring grub, women’s white seashell forehead adornment, boys chopping tree branches, small white plants that grow on mountaintops, old animal bones found while digging in the garden and beaks of Blyth’s Hornbill). The subjects come from the landscape, the inner poetics of inner and outer Place. The women sometimes refer to the images as their “wisdom”, and selectively reveal the intrinsic meanings to outsiders. One of the earlier appreciators of the Ömie, Drusilla Modjeska, wrote: “When the alphabet of motifs can be named, it is absorbed in such a way that parts do not require naming. The iconography works not by being broken into separate elements, but by a complex patterning of sensations and image that is not translatable -- a way of seeing that is affective as well as instructive.” The nioge are a manifestation of the tribal homeground, an extension of self and culture and place. This can be expressed as in the descriptive title of a barkcloth by Mala Nari; Ömie Mountains, eggs of the dwarf cassowary, river stones, and tattoo designs of the bellybutton. Nari had a deeply dramatic vision in 1996 that led to the revival of these never-forgotten designs and codifications of history and experience. Cavin-Morris Gallery is proud and pleased to announce the collaboration with Ömie Artists to present these profoundly beautiful paintings. We will show the widely differing work of fourteen women and two men of the Ömie people. Most of the barkcloths are created by the first generation of duvahe or chiefs of the Ömie as a way to remember, and in an effort to revive this imagery.

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Ab out Ö m i e Artists Ömie Artists (Inc.) is a cooperative of Ömie tribeswomen barkcloth painters from Oro Province in Papua New Guinea. Barkcloth is the traditional textile of the Ömie tribe. Women wear nioge (skirts) while men wear givai (loincloths). Barkcloth serves important purposes in marriage, funerary and initiation ceremonies as well as being an integral part of everyday life. Ömie barkcloths are still worn today by men, women and children during traditional ceremonies which can involve feasting and spectacular performances of singing, dancing and kundu-drumming. Barkcloth is so important to the Ömie that one of the key events in their creation story details how the first woman, Suja, beat the first barkcloth. Nioge have been produced by Ömie women for gallery exhibitions since the cooperative was founded in 2004. Women prepare the barkcloth by harvesting the inner layer of bark (the phloem) of rainforest trees which they rinse and dry and then fold and pound repetitiously on flat stones until a strong, fibrous sheet of cloth is produced. The cloth is then left to cure in the sun. Red, yellow, green and black natural pigments are created from fruits, ferns, leaves and charcoal. Ancient clan designs are painted in freehand onto the cloth or the cloth is dyed in river mud and the designs are appliquéd. Common painting implements include strong grasses, fashioned wooden sticks and frayed betelnut husks. Artists inherit clan designs as young women by birthright or marriage from their mothers, grandmothers and mother-in-laws, and in some instances from their fathers and husbands. Most designs are generations old but some elderly artists who have attained a level of mastery, usually Chiefs, are free to paint their uehorëro (wisdom), creating new designs. The Ömie’s female Chief system is primarily based upon a woman’s barkcloth painting talents and the cultural knowledge she attains over a lifetime. All painting designs originate or are derived from traditional Ömie culture and the natural environment, maintaining and communicating artists’ deep connection to their ancestors and country. Ömie territory’s lush rainforests, wild rivers, fauna, elemental phenomena and sacred creation sites such as the volcano Huvaemo and Mount Obo provide a plethora of subjects from which artists continue to draw inspiration for their painting designs. Certain designs serve the important purpose of upholding jagor’e, customary Ömie law, passing on essential knowledge such as taboos and educating the next generation about how to protect and preserve sacred sites. In 1951 Huvaemo erupted which correlated with the coming of the first missionaries who banned the ancient initiation rite known as the ujawé that involved tattooing clan insignia (sor’e) onto the skin. The Dahorurajé clan Chiefs Warrimou and Nogi believed the eruption was a warning from the spirits of their ancestors who reside on Huvaemo – a warning that the old ways were being lost and that they must turn away from the outsiders and hold onto their traditional culture. In order to appease the ancestors, the Chiefs spread the word throughout the tribe, encouraging the women to paint both men and women’s tattoo designs onto the barkcloth. And so triumphantly, the Ömie have managed to preserve their tattoo designs through the women’s strong barkcloth painting tradition. Ömie Artists is fully owned and governed by Ömie people. Five Art Centres service artists across twelve villages and each of the centres play a vital role by ensuring that the ancient tradition of barkcloth painting as well as traditional culture remain strong and by providing economic returns to their artists. Income generated from sales allows artists and their families access to essential services such as hospitals and secondary schools, and necessities such as medicine, clothes and tools for building houses, hunting and subsistence farming that are otherwise unavailable to them in their remote homelands. Ömie Artists’ Manager works closely with a Committee of Art Centre Coordinators to facilitate sustainable production and ethical sales of artists’ works and to protect the rights of the artists. The Manager and Committee also work in close consultation with Chiefs and elders to ensure that traditional clan copyright laws are upheld and cultural information is verified before distribution.

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Since the first exhibition in 2006 the barkcloth art of the Ömie women has been highly celebrated, culminating in the National Gallery of Victoria’s landmark exhibition Wisdom of the Mountain: Art of the Ömie in 2009. Artists have also been included in major exhibitions such as Cloth That Grows on Trees at the Textile Museum of Canada in 2007; 17th Biennale of Sydney at the Museum of Contemporary Art in 2010; Paperskin: The Art of Tapa Cloth at the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa in 2010; Second Skins: Painted Barkcloth from New Guinea and Central Africa at the Fowler Museum at UCLA in 2012; and Contemporary Ömie Bark Cloth at the de Young Museum in 2012. Significant collections of Ömie art are held in both public and private collections including the National Gallery of Victoria, National Gallery of Australia, Queensland Art Gallery and the Fowler Museum at UCLA. Brennan King Ömie Artists, Inc.

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A Libation to the Ömie Artists The first teacher is Nature. There are those on this planet who have never forgotten their relationship to Her. Indeed it was never a choice. There are too many in this world that have forgotten. This makes the efforts of the few who remember nothing short of heroic. I consider the artists of the Ömie to be heroes amongst a heroic people. They are charismatic culture bearers. That word “hero” hardly does them justice though. Genius in the art world is not only gauged by what one does in relationship to the past but also how one brings it into the present and forward into the future. There is a collective genius at work here that allows for iconoclasm and the vision of the individual set into the matrix of the culture itself. This art was not seen by the outside world before 2006. It was not developed or invented for the world at large. It is therefore all the more miraculous that it touches something so universal in us. It is double-pronged. It keeps its own internal vernacular integrity at the same time that it propels its images and sacred geometry into our collective consciousness. It is neither intellectual nor antiintellectual. It operates from a universal core because of its relationship to Nature and in doing so reminds us of our own memories and relationships to that same core of being. It begins with a myth. An indigenous art Genesis. A Spirit created a man and a woman. Her name was Suja, his name was Mina. Her name meant “I Don’t Know”. The world was already there in primeval form. Drusilla Modjeska, one of the first people to see and write about the Ömie puts it this way: “when they (Suja and her husband Mina) emerged from the headwaters of the Girua River, where it flows from the volcano the Ömie call Huvaemo, all was confusion. Suja had no opening

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to her womb, and in order to give birth to the children from whom the clans of Ömie were formed, her husband Mina cut her a vagina, healing the wound with the leaves from the forest. With the restoration of her fertility, Suja then cut the first tree from which she beat the first barkcloth. From a state of not-knowing she gave birth not only to children but to a barkcloth art of great knowing, on which is inscribed, to this day, the histories and landscapes of Ömie, the abundant life of Huvaemo’s rivers and forests, creatures and plants. ” From this emergence myth we can sense the priorities of these people; retaining the names, perceiving and maintaining world order, the creation, retention, documentation and furthering of knowledge, and doing so with the aid of these barkcloths which become, when worn and displayed, a kinetic demonstration of active and living intelligence; intelligence marked with its sense of Place geographically and in time. The first barkcloth then was born of women’s primal contact with her blood and a cosmic cycle of fertility. It was a record of her reaching full womanhood through menstruation and it was a crossroads of physical nature and metaphysical spirit and the locale of homeground. Because of the knowledge invested in these paintings they actually travel on multiple tiers of communication, both inwardly and outwardly at the same time. Inwardly they are preservations of individual and tribal knowledge, a living visual archive made up of mnemonic devices that trigger myth, song, and one of the most sacred of activities; the naming of things. They are documents of balance; a library of what is necessary for a people to maintain their integrity as a group. Outwardly they manifest what scholar Grey Gundaker has called “homeground” maintaining the following themes: “protection and safekeeping, personal virtuosity, community improvement, and honor to family and ancestors.” In addition to that they grab us on an aesthetic level that I can only describe as fully satisfying. The colors seduce the eye; the mark of the hand never becomes mechanical or soullessly repetitive. It is as if details were cut out of a celestial tapestry that reflects and transmutes a light both solar and lunar at the same time. If we allow ourselves to slow down and breathe the rhythms, for they are each as rhythmic as sacred music, they hold the drums, if we breathe those rhythms the interstices between the patterns open up and draw us in to the fabric of the world. Each cloth holds the presence of the woman or person of power who made it. She has sung to it and talked to it and caressed it into being. Her path to this privilege of making has been hard earned and so the cloth then becomes a receptacle of what in Jamaica is called “the one and the many”; a consciousness not only of the individual’s trajectory through life but also the artists’ journey as part of an important and ever on-going community. These weave and dance around each other in a helix of form and meaning. We look at these paintings and feel we know them but hunger to experience them again and again. For Cavin-Morris this exhibition is more than just a display of artworks. It is an activation of abstract projections of deep soul and a much-needed connection with the idea that the process of artmaking and life as manifested in these works are just as important as the profound beauty of the paintings themselves. From this hamlet on a side of a volcano a connection has been made. Randall Morris Brooklyn, 2013

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| 3 | View across to eastern Ömie territory

| 4 | The heart of Ömie territory 7 • Volcanic Visions: Barkcloth Art of the Ömie


| 5 | Ömie village that protects the sacred Mount Obo (background), home of the first people Mina and Suja

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| 6 | Albert Sirimi (Nanati) with his clan

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| 7 | Elders Fate Savari, Brenda Kesi and Sarah Ugibari Volcanic Visions: Barkcloth Art of the Ömie

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| 8 | Artists harvesting bark from the forest 11 • Volcanic Visions: Barkcloth Art of the Ömie


| 9 | Artists making birire (red pigment)

| 10 | Are (yellow pigment)

| 11 | Dapeni Jonevari painting

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| 12 | Ömie men in warrior mud-paint, with pig jaw-bones and clubs (wearing Fate Savari barkcloth & Sarah Ugibari adorning doorway in background)

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| 13 | Misty morning in the heart of Ömie territory

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| 14 | Village dance

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Jessie Bujava (Kipora)

Born: c.1970 Biography

Jessie’s father is the Assistant Paramount Chief of Ömie men, Albert Sirimi (Nanati) and her mother was Agnes Sirimi. Jessie was taught to paint traditional designs of her clan by both her mother Agnes and her grandmother. Along with Ömie artists Lillias Bujava (Kausara) and Felicity Bujava, Jessie is part of a new and exciting school of painters of her clan whose designs are characterized by an excess of orriseegé or ‘pathways’. Orriseegé is most often used to provide a compositional framework for Ömie painting designs, and it reaches its extreme limit in Jessie’s works where her traditional symbolic designs conform to a tight, yet organic, geometric format. She often paints siha’e, the design of the fruit of the tree and visuanö’e, the design of the teeth of the mountain fish.

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Jessie Bujava (Kipora) siha’e ohu’o visuano’e - fruit of the tree and teeth of the fish, 2012 Natural pigments on barkcloth 51.57 x 26.77 in/ 131 x 68 cm Omi 30 Volcanic Visions: Barkcloth Art of the Ömie

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Lillias Bujava (Kausara)

B o r n : c.1977 Biography Lillias Bujava (Kausara) has quickly become one of the most accomplished artists amongst a new generation of Ömie barkcloth painters. She utilizes an array of traditional clan designs, experimenting with repetitious and often highly complex compositions within the oriseegé (pathways). Combined with her exacting application of colored pigments, she creates hypnotic visual effects with a wholly unique vitality and dynamism. Her work was included in Wisdom of the Mountain: Art of the Ömie at the National Gallery of Victoria International. To mark the opening of the landmark exhibition Lillias, along with her husband a master songman Raphael Bujava and her son Ian, she performed a traditional jö’erramo ohu’o javavamo (song and dance) to a delighted audience.

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Lillias Bujava (Kausara) vë’i ija ahé, jawubimu’é, vavodeje ja’e, jeje an’e, buborianö’e, bureji sor’e, siha’e/vinohu’e ohu’o visuano’e - tailbone of the lizard, mountain pine tree, bush rope (jungle vine with red flowers), beaks of Lawe’s Parotia bird-of-paradise, beaks of Blyth’s Hornbill, leaf markings on the woven mat, fruit of the sihe tree/tattoo design of the bellybutton and teeth of the fish, 2012 Natural pigments on barkcloth 68.11 x 22.83 in/ 173 x 58 cm Omi 29 Volcanic Visions: Barkcloth Art of the Ömie

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Pauline-Rose Hago (Derami)

Born: c.1968 Biography

Pauline-Rose Hago (Derami) is the daughter of Natalie Juvé, who was also a barkcloth artist. As a young girl Pauline-Rose was adopted by Wilington Uruhé, the Paramount Chief of Ömie men. She has been fortunate to have learnt the traditional soru’e (tattoo designs) from her father Willington as she is now the foremost painter of important designs such as taigu taigu’e - leaf pattern, siha’e - tree fruit and jö’o sor’e - uncurling fern fronds as well as vë’i ija ahe - bone of the lizard. Her talents as a painter have seen her travel to Sydney, Australia in 2009 with Dapeni Jonevari (Mokokari) to attend an exhibition of Ömie art. She is married to Simon Hago and together they have four children.

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Pauline-Rose Hago (Derami) vë’i ija ahe (visuanö’e, siha’e, moköjo jö’e ohu’o sabu deje) - bone of the lizard (with teeth of the fish, fruit of the sihe tree, beaks of the black parrot, and spots of the wood-boring grub), 2012 Natural pigments on barkcloth 48.82 x 31.3 in/ 124 x 79.5 cm Omi 26 Volcanic Visions: Barkcloth Art of the Ömie

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Pauline-Rose Hago (Derami) amurelavahe’e, siha’e, sin’e sor’e (taigu taigu’e ohu’o jö’o sor’e) ohu’o sabu deje - Ömie face paint design for dancing, fruit of the sihe tree, tattoo design (pattern of a leaf and uncurling fern fronds) and spots of the wood-boring grub, 2013 Natural pigments on barkcloth 53.54 x 21.06 in/ 136 x 53.5 cm Omi 27 23 • Volcanic Visions: Barkcloth Art of the Ömie


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Dapeni Jonevari (Mokokari)

Born: c.1949 Artist’s Statement

“I paint from my observations of the mountains and forests and creatures. Dreams give me inspiration... I paint to record traditional Ömie ways for dancing performance and feasting ceremonies.”

Biography

Dapeni has been painting for Ömie Artists since its establishment in 2004. Her mother was Yéwo and her father was John Koré. She was born two years before the eruption of Huvaemo (Mount Lamington). As a young girl Dapeni was taught to paint traditional Ömie barkcloth designs by her aunts. She also paints soru’e (tattoo designs) she saw on her grandfather’s body and uehorëro (her own wisdom). Since 2002, Dapeni has been teaching her daughter-in-law Diona Jonevari to paint traditional Ömie barkcloth designs.

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Dapeni Jonevari (Mokokari) butote’e - spiderwebs, 2013 Natural pigments on barkcloth 54.72 x 29.53 in/ 139 x 75 cm Omi 21 Volcanic Visions: Barkcloth Art of the Ömie

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Botha Kimmikimmi (Hirokiki)

Born: c.1941 Biography Botha Kimmkimmi (Hirorkiki) was born in 1941, ten years before the eruption of Huvaemo (Mount Lamington). Her father was Teedulé and her mother was Moroja. Botha’s mother passed away when she was young and she was adopted by the Kimmikimmi family. Here she was taught to paint by Moira Kimmkimmi, her motherin-law. She was taught distinctive Ömie designs such as dahoru’e - Ömie mountains, tuböru une - eggs of the Dwarf Cassowary and sabu ahe - spots of the woodboring grub. Her work was featured on the exhibition poster for the landmark exhibition of Ömie barkcloth paintings Wisdom of the Mountain: Art of the Ömie at the National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne. She is married to Dropmus Kimmikimmi and together they have two children.

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Botha Kimmikimmi (Hirokiki) dahoru’e, tuböre une, buboriano’e, ohu’o sabu ahe - Ömie mountains, eggs of the Dwarf Cassowary, beaks of Blyth’s Hornbill and spots of the wood-boring grub, 2012 Natural pigments on barkcloth 44.49 x 36.61 in/ 113 x 93 cm Omi 22 Volcanic Visions: Barkcloth Art of the Ömie

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Botha Kimmikimmi (Hirokiki) dahoru’e, tuböre une, buboriano’e, ohu’o sabu ahe - Ömie mountains, eggs of the Dwarf Cassowary, beaks of Blyth’s Hornbill and spots of the wood-boring grub, 2012 Natural pigments on barkcloth 50.79 x 37.4 in/ 129 x 95 cm Omi 23 29 • Volcanic Visions: Barkcloth Art of the Ömie


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Brenda Kesi (Ariré)

Born: c.1937 Biography Brenda was a young girl during the turmoil of World War II and she remembers the 1951 eruption of Dahore Huvaemo (Mount Lamington). Brenda’s mother was Go’ovino and her father was Valéla. Her mother taught her how to sew her grandmother, Munne’s, sihoti’e taliobamë’e - designs of the mud. This method of appliquéing mud-dyed barkcloth was first practiced by Suja, the first woman and mother of the world, as told in the Ömie creation story. Brenda has begun to teach her sister Teresa Kione (Avur’e) to sew the ancestral Ömie sihoti’e designs such as wo’ohohe ground-burrowing spider and taigu taigu’e - ancestral tattoo designs. Brenda lives happily by the Jordan River with her husband Robinson Kesi.

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Brenda Kesi (Ariré) wo’ohohe - ground-burrowing spider, 2013 sihoti’e taliobamë’e - appliquéd mud-dyed barkcloth 38.58 x 29.13 in/ 98 x 74 cm Omi 15 Volcanic Visions: Barkcloth Art of the Ömie

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Mala Nari (Matosi)

Born: c.1958 Biography

Mala’s mother was Waganami Togarino and her father was A’oji Negunna. Mala has three children. Her husband, now passed, was Elo Nari. Mala was taught to paint Ömie designs by her grandmother and remembers watching her as a young girl. Mala loved to sit with her grandmother and learn about Ömie history, the natural environment and how to nurture the land. Mala’s main designs are tuböru unö’e - eggs of the Dwarf Cassowary, dahoru’e - Ömie mountains, munë’e - river stones, buboriano’e - beaks of Blyth’s Hornbill and odunaigö’e - jungle vines. From 1996 to 2002, before the arrival of David Baker and the formation of the Ömie Artists cooperative, Mala was instrumental in bringing about a revitalization of barkcloth painting in her neighboring villages. She is a very strong culture woman and is well known across Ömie territory for her powerful singing voice. Her work was exhibited in the 17th Biennale of Sydney at the Museum of Contemporary Art and in the landmark exhibition of Ömie art, Wisdom of the Mountain: Art of the Ömie at the National Gallery of Victoria International.

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Mala Nari (Matosi) dahoru’e, tuböre une, munë’e ohu’o vinohu’e - Ömie mountains, eggs of the Dwarf Cassowary, river stones and tattoo design of the bellybutton, 2013 Natural pigments on barkcloth 34.25 x 32.28 in/ 87 x 82 cm Omi 24 Volcanic Visions: Barkcloth Art of the Ömie

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Fate Savari (Isawdi)

Born: c.1933 Biography

Fate has been painting for Ömie Artists since 2009. Her mother was Majaho and her father was the legendary Lokirro. Fate tells a vivid account of her time during the Second World War: “I was in the house with my family when we first heard the warplane flying over. When we went outside and saw the plane, my parents gathered up my family and we ran as quickly as we could towards our new yam garden and hid ourselves in the bush under a tree.” Fate learnt a wealth of soru’e (tattoo designs) from her mother including vinohu’e - design of the bellybutton. She depicts her knowledge of Ömie custom creations and history in splendid detail in her paintings. In one painting she illustrates a boy’s initiation ceremony after undergoing tattooing in a guai - an underground site used during the time of the ancestors. Fate has taught her designs to her daughter-in-law Linda-Grace Savari (Majaré), a duvahe (Chief) of her clan women. Fate is the proud mother of seven children.

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Fate Savari (Isawdi) hart’e (sabu deje, nenyai, ije bi’weje, dubidubi’e, mi’ija’ahe ohu’o buborianö’e) ceremonial white shell pendant necklace (with spots of the wood-boring grub, women’s white seashell forehead adornment, boys chopping tree branches, small white plants that grow on mountaintops, old animal bones found while digging in the garden and beaks of Blyth’s Hornbill), 2012 Natural pigments on barkcloth 47.64 x 22.44 in/ 121 x 57 cm Omi 12 Volcanic Visions: Barkcloth Art of the Ömie

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Fate Savari (Isawdi) Jov’e Uborida - jowo tahgwe ohu’o isairov’e, horé hitahi’e - a man attempting to cross at a bend in the flooding Jordan River (Uborida), 2013 Natural pigments on barkcloth 29.53 x 21.06 in/ 75 x 53.5 cm Omi 13 37 • Volcanic Visions: Barkcloth Art of the Ömie


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Linda-Grace Savari (Majaré)

Born: c.1962 Biography

Linda-Grace has been painting for Ömie Artists since 2009. Her mother was Horéja and her father was Buré’i. She is married to Sylvester Savari, the son of artist Fate Savari from whom she was taught to paint. Linda-Grace and Sylvester have five children. As the duvahe (Chief) of her clan women Linda-Grace has the authority to paint uehorëro (her own wisdom). mahuva’ojé - the pig’s footprint, nyoni han’e - fern leaves and odunaigö’e - jungle vines are common subjects as well as a myriad of soru’e (tattoo designs).

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Linda-Grace Savari (Majaré) Mahudanö’e, mahu ane bios’e, hin’e baje ohu’o buborianö’e - pig’s tusks and teeth, fruit of the mustard plant and beaks of Blyth’s Hornbill, 2013 Natural pigments on barkcloth 42.91 x 29.53 in/ 109 x 75 cm Omi 28 Volcanic Visions: Barkcloth Art of the Ömie

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Albert Sirimi (Nanati)

Born: c.1935-2012 Biography Albert Sirimi (Nanati) was a highly respected clan lawman, master songman and the Assistant Paramount Chief of Ömie men. He is the only known Ömie man to have learnt traditional barkcloth painting designs from his mother. Albert was one of the last men who remembered the traditional clan funerary rites, which he played an important role in as a young man. He was a young boy living in his old clan village. In 1940, when the first white man, Mr. Cook - an Australian Patrol officer, accompanied by Orokaivan policemen, set up camp at the base of his mountain village on a mission to “civilize” the Ömie. Albert explains how Mr. Cook shot his gun at a tree to assert his power, eventually scaring and coercing Albert’s clan down from their village. Mr. Cook gained Albert’s people’s trust by giving them sugar, salt, rice, flour, tobacco, matches, clothes, axes and knives. Mr. Cook marked Albert’s father, Nanati, as the first village police officer in order to enforce law and stop tribal fighting. Mr. Cook even chose a wife for Albert’s father – Avarro, who later became the Chief of her clan women and a revered barkcloth painter, and Albert’s new mother and painting teacher. Some of Albert’s clan designs are shared with artist Celestine Warina (Kaaru), Chief of her clan women, as she is the granddaughter of Avarro. Albert has taught many young artists his ancestral clan painting designs including Ivy-Rose Sirimi, Petra Ijaja (Jaujé) and Barbara Rauno (Inasu). The spirit of Avarro and Albert Sirimi and their important barkcloth painting legacy lives on through these young artists’ beautiful work.

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Albert Sirimi (Nanati) nuni’e, taigu taigu’e, jubiri anö’e ohu’o sabu ahe - design of the eye, jungle vine, design of the woven waistbelt and spots of the wood-boring grub, 2013 Natural pigments on barkcloth 57.09 x 18.9 in/ 145 x 48 cm Omi 14 Volcanic Visions: Barkcloth Art of the Ömie

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Sarah Ugibari

Born: c.1919 Artist’s Statement

“I produce barkcloth art to show the world the strength of Ömie culture.”

Biography

Sarah has been painting for Ömie Artists since 2009 and she loves to sit and paint ancestral barkcloth designs as well as to sing and dance for celebrations. Her mother was Maranabara and her father was Suevini from a village on the Managalasi Plateau. As a young woman, Sarah married an Ömie man and moved to his village. Managalasi people and Ömie people share the same ancestral creation story of Mina and Suja, the first man and woman as well as many of the same barkcloth designs. Sarah learnt to paint as well as create sihoti’e taliobamë’e, designs of the mud, from both her mother and her grandmother. She is credited as the oldest Ömie woman. She is the foremost authority on traditional customary dress and spends days preparing the hair of young girls for dancing. Sarah teaches Ilma Savari how to paint and sew Ömie designs.

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Sarah Ugibari tamajai ohu’o deb’é - ancestral tattoo design of the necklace with pandanus fibre string, 2011 Natural pigments on barkcloth 46.06 x 22.44 in/ 117 x 57 cm Omi 9 Volcanic Visions: Barkcloth Art of the Ömie

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Sarah Ugibari asimano’e soru’e (vinohu’e, jö’o sor’e ohu’o taigu taigu’e) men’s ancestral tattoo designs (design of the bellybutton, uncurling fern fronds and pattern of a leaf), 2012 Natural pigments on barkcloth 51.77 x 28.74 in/ 131.5 x 73 cm Omi 10 45 • Volcanic Visions: Barkcloth Art of the Ömie


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Sarah Ugibari mododa’e diburi’e biojë’oho tail-feathers of the swift when sitting in the tree, 2012 sihoti’e taliobamë’e - appliquéd mud-dyed barkcloth 31.5 x 24.8 in/ 80 x 63 cm Omi 11 Volcanic Visions: Barkcloth Art of the Ömie

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Stella Üpia (Agisé)

Born: c.1946 Biography

Stella began painting for Ömie Artists at its inception in 2004. Her mother was Yévo and her father was John Koré. She is married to Randolph Üpia and has two children. Stella’s design jawubimu’é - the design of the mountain pine tree, was shown to her by her husband and was originally painted by the barkcloth artist Jona who was still painting circa1967. Stella loves to share the traditional Ömie story behind the mountain pine tree design.

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Stella Üpia (Agisé) si’hai’u’e ohu’o dahoru’e - fruit of the sihe tree and Ömie mountains, 2013 Natural pigments on barkcloth 48.82 x 20.87 in/ 124 x 53 cm Omi 20 Volcanic Visions: Barkcloth Art of the Ömie

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Celestine Warina (Kaaru)

Born: c.1947 Artist’s Statement

“As a young girl I would sit and watch my mother paint. When I was old enough I began to paint myself and my mother would correct me. She taught me the traditional way of painting (my) clan designs.”

Biography

Celestine Warina’s mother was Rebecca Wosilli (Usirri) and her father was Emosi Waruré. Celestine explains how during the time of the eruption of Huvaemo (Mount Lamington) she was a small baby and her mother carried her around in the bilum. Her mother Usirri and her grandmother Awarro were both barkcloth painters. Celestine has inherited the her traditional clan designs and is a highly-skilled artist. She is now teaching her daughters their traditional style of painting.

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Celestine Warina (Kaaru) dahoru’e (udane une, sabu’ahe ohu’o cobburé jö’o si’o si’o ve’e) - Ömie mountains (with eggs of the Giant Spiny Stick Insect, spots of the woodboring grub and pattern of a snake’s lip), 2013 Natural pigments on barkcloth 52.36 x 25.79 in/ 133 x 65.5 cm Omi 19 Volcanic Visions: Barkcloth Art of the Ömie

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Jean-Mary Warrimou (Hujama)

Born: c.1967 Biography

Jean-Mary’s mother was Lita Numeré and her father was Michael Kokia. She is married to Rex Warrimou, a strong jagor’e (law) man for his clan. Jean-Mary and Rex have seven children. She was originally taught to paint by her sister-in-law Lila Warrimou (Misaso), the Paramount Chief of Ömie women but is now a confident and talented painter in her own right. JeanMary is one of the few Ömie artists who paints uehorëro (her own wisdom). Accompanied by her husband, she loves to visit the lands of his ancestors around Mount Ömie, the first mountain, where the mighty Girua River begins and also where the sacred creation site of Mina and Suja, the first man and woman of the world, can be found. She draws much inspiration from her observations of the natural environment such as rocks forming from minerals in volcanic waters and the sensuous curls of fern leaves. The designs she creates are always loaded with a powerful relationship to her culture - to her people’s origins, her beliefs, customs and those of her ancestors. Jean-Mary is now teaching her eldest daughter Alison Hinana to paint barkcloth designs.

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Jean-Mary Warrimou (Hujama) vaguré - fern leaves, 2012 Natural pigments on barkcloth 58.66 x 36.61 in/ 149 x 93 cm Omi 25 Volcanic Visions: Barkcloth Art of the Ömie

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Lila Warrimou (Misaso)

Born: c.1944 Biography

Lila has been painting for Ömie Artists since its establishment in 2004. As the Paramount Chief of Ömie women, her clan knowledge and uehore (wisdom) is unrivalled. She was a young girl when the volcano Huvaemo erupted and recalls being very scared when her old village, which was situated close to the sacred Mount Obo, was surrounded by lava. She remembers her parents keeping her and her siblings safely together, and she was carried by one of her mothers, Guamo, away from the volcano to higher ground. Her birth mother was Eronay Atai and her father was Chief Warrimou Moiwa. She was formerly married to Fabian Jerrirumu to whom she had four children but after he passed away she remarried Nathan Gama - duvahe (Chief) of his clan men. Lila’s auntie Joyce-Bella Mujorumo, former duvahe of her clan women, taught her to paint a plethora of Ömie designs and clan symbols and also taught her about the origins of Ömie art, culture and history. In turn, Lila has taught a number of Ömie women to paint including her sister-in-law Jean-Mary Warrimou (Hujama).

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Lila Warrimou (Misaso) gojavö hanö’e, mahuva’oje ohu’o sabu deje - feathers of the black and red parrot, pig hoofprints and spots of the wood-boring grub, 2012 Natural pigments on barkcloth 57.09 x 30.31 in/ 145 x 77 cm Omi 16 Volcanic Visions: Barkcloth Art of the Ömie

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Lila Warrimou (Misaso) ije ridimë’e, mahuva’oje ohu’o sabu deje - jungle ladder, pig hoofprints and spots of the woodboring grub, 2012 Natural pigments on barkcloth 54.72 x 29.92 in/ 139 x 76 cm Omi 17 55 • Volcanic Visions: Barkcloth Art of the Ömie


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Rex Warrimou

Born: c.1945 Biography

Rex Warrimou is a strong jagor’e (law) man for his clan and the son of the late Warrimou, a very important Chief who was a key figure in helping to preserve the Ömie tribe’s traditional visual arts and culture. In the late 1940’s missionary encroachment was attempting to stamp out all traditional Ömie cultural practices and had already banned important initiation and funerary ceremonies. The volcano Huvaemo (Mount Lamington), a highly sacred place where Ömie ancestor spirits reside, erupted in 1951 and Warrimou believed the ancestor spirits were warning his people that their culture was being lost. In order to appease the ancestors Warrimou actively encouraged the women artists to paint the men’s tattoo designs onto barkcloth. Still to this day, the survival of Ömie barkcloth art is largely credited to Warrimou (as well as his wife Nogi). Warrimou instilled in his son Rex the importance of preserving and maintaining traditional cultural practices and Rex is now considered a ‘keeper’ of the profound knowledge taught to him by his father. Rex’s traditional lands encompass the southern and eastern sides of the volcano and the surrounding mountain ranges. With his family, Rex tirelessly watches over and cares for his lands, maintaining the vital balance of his people - his ancestors, the living and future generations - with the sacred environment from which they were created and are so intrinsically a part of. Rex began painting his clan stories onto barkcloth in 2012. He is married to artist Jean-Mary Warrimou (Hujama) and together they have seven children. Rex’s sister is the Paramount Chief of Ömie women, Lila Warrimou (Misaso).

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Rex Warrimou The Story of the Trickster Spirit and the Vanishing Boy, 2012 Natural pigments on barkcloth 23.82 x 17.72 in/ 60.5 x 45 cm Omi 18 Volcanic Visions: Barkcloth Art of the Ömie

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Exhibitions 2013

Suja’s Daughters, Andrew Baker Art Dealer, Brisbane Tapa: Barkcloth Paintings from the Pacific, Ikon Gallery, Birmingham, UK Painted and Woven in Song: Ömie Barkcloths and Bilums, RAFT Artspace, Alice Springs Of Spirit and Splendour: Barkcloth Art of the Ömie, ReDot Fine Art Gallery, Singapore

2012

Nohi Dahoru’e – Nohi Nioge (Our Mountain – Our Art), The Depot Gallery, Sydney Contemporary Ömie Bark Cloth, de Young Museum, San Francisco, USA Art of the Ömie: Barkcloth Paintings from Papua New Guinea, Harvey Art Projects, Sun Valley, Idaho, USA In the Red: On the Vibrancy of Things, The University of Queensland Anthropology Museum, Brisbane Nohi niogero aru’aho ma’ene munomehi jajuho (Our barkcloth holds the spirit of our culture), RAFT Artspace, Alice Springs Second Skins: Painted Barkcloth from New Guinea and Central Africa, Fowler Museum at UCLA, Los Angeles, CA, USA Barkcloth Paintings by Ömie Chiefs and Elders, William Mora Galleries, Melbourne

2011

Art of the Pacific, National Gallery of Victoria International, Melbourne We hold our mother’s teachings in our hearts and hands, Short St. Gallery, Broome No si hijomiono’o jabesi sor’e jajivo (We are painting the designs of our ancestors), ReDot Fine Art Gallery, Singapore

2010

Rweromo garé niogehu mamabahe ajivé (Come and see the beauty and brightness of our barkcloths), Chapman Gallery, Canberra Paperskin: The Art of Tapa Cloth, Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa, Wellington 17th Biennale of Sydney: The Beauty of Distance – Songs of Survival in a Precarious Age, Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney The Art of Ömie, William Mora Galleries, Melbourne Miami International Art Fair / Art Palm Beach, USA presented by Osborne Samuel, London Paperskin: Barkcloth Art Across the Pacific, Queensland Art Gallery, Brisbane

2009

Wisdom of the Mountain: Art of the Ömie, National Gallery of Victoria International, Melbourne

2008

Ömie Art of Mt. Lamington, New Guinea Gallery, Sydney

2007

In the Shadow of a Volcano: The Barkcloth Art of the Ömie, Holmes à Court Gallery, Perth

Cloth That Grows on Trees, Textile Museum of Canada, Toronto

Collections

Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa, Wellington National Gallery of Australia, Canberra National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne Queensland Art Gallery, Brisbane University of Queensland Anthropology Museum, Brisbane Fowler Museum at UCLA, Los Angeles Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology, University of Cambridge, UK High Commission of Papua New Guinea, Canberra Pacific Islands Trade & Invest, Sydney 59 • Volcanic Visions: Barkcloth Art of the Ömie


Bibliography

Aisbett, Norman, ‘Tribe shows the way’, The West Australian, 2 June 2007, p.3 Aguirre, Edward; and Beran, Harry, The Art of Oro Province: A Preliminary Typology, The Oceanic Art Society, Sydney 2009 Balai, Sana; Modjeska, Drusilla; and Ryan, Judith, Wisdom of the Mountain: Art of the Ömie, National Gallery of Victoria International, Melbourne 2009 Cheng, Scarlet, ‘Prized barkcloth shown in ‘Second Skins’ at UCLA’s Fowler’, LA Times, 1 April 2012 Durrant, Jacqui, ‘Ömie Beauty’, Art Monthly Australia, #231 July 2010, p.53 Elliott, David (ed.), 17th Biennale Of Sydney: Beauty Of Distance – Songs Of Survival In A Precarious Age, Thames & Hudson 2010 Fish, Peter, ‘Barkcloths to Bewitch Fans’, Sydney Morning Herald, 15 July 2006 Fish, Peter, ‘From under the volcano’, Sydney Morning Herald, 28 March 2008 Grishin, Sasha, ‘Bark cloth with bite’, Canberra Times, 3 December 2009, p.9 Hawker, Michael, ‘Ömie barkcloth: A textile of transition and place’, Threads: Contemporary Textiles and the Social Fabric, Queensland Art Gallery | Gallery of Modern Art, Brisbane 2011, pp.79-83 Kalmar, Nicola, ‘Ancient technique is a symbol of heritage’, Broome Advertiser, 11 August 2011 Mallon, Sean; Miller, Imelda; Page, Maud; and Thomas, Nicholas, Paperskin: Barkcloth Across the Pacific, an exhibition organised by the Queensland Art Gallery, Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa and Queensland Museum 2009 McLean, Ian, ‘Beauty, distance, songs: Surviving the end of Enlightenment’, Art Monthly Australia, July 2010 Issue 231, p.5-8 Modjeska, Drusilla, ‘This Place, Our Art: The Barkcloth Art of Ömie’, Art & Australia, Vol. 43 No. 2 Summer 2005, p.250-255 Modjeska, Drusilla, Suja’s Daughters [exhibition catalogue], Andrew Baker Art Dealer 2013 Nahow-Ryall, Krishna, ‘Meet the Neighbours’, Art Monthly Australia, #237 March 2011, p.52 Nugent, Mary-Lou, ‘The Ömie Barkcloths’, Artonview, Winter 2007, p.41 Nelson, Robert, ‘Geometric gems with kinetic jive’, The Age, 8 February 2012, p.15 Sorensen, Rosemary, ‘The eyes inhabit a strange new world’, The Australian, 24 November 2009 Subrahmanian, Madhvi, ‘Ancient barkcloth comes alive’, The Business Times, 11 February 2011, p.26 Thomas, Nicholas, ‘Spiderweb and Vine: The Art of Ömie’, Brunt, Peter; and Thomas, Nicholas (eds.), Art in Oceania: A New History, Thames and Hudson, London, 2012, p. 484-5 Thomson, Chris, ‘Papuan women’s artistic eruption’, The Perth Voice, 22 May 2007, p.11 Williams, Jacqueline, ‘Art form is fabric of a culture’, Canberra Times, 6 July 2010, p.9

Photo Credits:

1-7, 9, 12-15, 17, 19, 24, 27, 29, 31, 34, 36, 38, 44, 46, 48, 53. © Brennan King. Courtesy Ömie Artists Inc. 8, 10, 11, 22, 42, 51. Courtesy Drusilla Modjeska

Cat alogu e D e s i g n : Mimi Kano, Marissa Levien, & Sophie Friedman-Pappas Phot ograph y : Jurate Veceraite (unless noted above)

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With support from Ömie Artists, Inc.

Copyright © 2013 Cavin-Morris Gallery Cavin-Morris Gallery 210 Eleventh Ave, Ste. 201 New York, NY 10001 t. 212 226 3768 www.cavinmorris.com

Volcanic Visions: Barkcloth Art of the Omie  

This catalog documents an important and fascinating exhibition at Cavin-Morris Gallery of paintings on barkcloth by the Culture-bearers of t...

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