2012 Toi Sgwigwialtxw Artist in Residence

Maori Master Weaver Karl Rangikawhiti Leonard hosted by Evergreen Longhouse

PRESS RELEASE - May 5, 2012

Karl Rangikawhiti LeonardOLYMPIA, WA - Maori master weaver Karl Rangikawhiti Leonard (Tribal Affiliation: Ngati Rangiwewehi, Ngati Ngararanui, Ngati Pahipoto, Ngati Raukawa) will be hosted by The Evergreen State College Longhouse as the 2012 Toi Sgwigwialtxw artist in residence. His residency will be from May 9th-June 20th, 2012. The residency will include weaving demonstrations, guest lectures, and interactions with local tribes and artists at various events. Karl will also travel to the Great Lakes region to attend the first-ever gathering of Woodlands Indian artists hosted by the Lac du Flambeau Band of Lake Superior Ojibwe. In June he will return to the area to witness the spring ceremonies of the Three Fires Midewiwin Lodge, a traditional healing society.

Karl Rangikawhiti Leonard was born and raised amongst his people of Ngati Rangiwewehi and Ngati Ngararanui at Waiteti, Rotorua, Aotearoa, New Zealand. Karl believes he has chosen the arts ‘nga mahi toi’. His genealogy on both his paternal and maternal sides have been instrumental in influencing his induction into the arts. Weaving and carving were a normal part of his everyday life.Weaving Image by Karl Rangikawhiti Leonard

His paternal kuia, Ranginui Parewahawaha Teimana lived with his family until he was 13 and it is she who played a pivotal role in his passion for weaving. He recollects her weaving a traditional mat whariki at the age of 98 years. She taught him to weave pingao into a continuous tipare strip to decorate glass bottles.

His grandmother’s daughters and Karl’s aunties, Rangimahora Reihana-Mete and Hei Tiki Blair were also skilled weavers who practiced modern craft as well as traditional. In addition to her daughters, her son - Karl’s uncle, Pakeke Leonard, was an avid carver.

On Karl’s maternal side his mother’s brother, Kaka Niao was also a well known carver, schooled in the Ngati Tarawhai style of carving. Karl spent a year with his Uncle Kaka learning the art of carving. Growing up, Karl was surrounded by family influences for both weaving and carving.

Karl attended the New Zealand Maori Arts & Crafts Institute, Whakarewarewa, Rotorua, now known as Te Puia. He began work there in 1983 and remained a staff member for sixteen years.

While weaving was his number one interest at the time, his journey led him down

the path of another art form, which was piupiu making. Piupiu making has traditionally been the domain of women, a handful of men have tried it, and he has the most extensive background in the art of piupiu making from among this handful.

In 2004, Karl accepted the position of Director of Design & Art Studies at Te Wananga o Raukawa, a Maori Tertiary Institution based in Otaki, Aotearoa. It was here that he began to rekindle his passion for weaving and look seriously at how to refine the art form of piupiu to beyond its well known ‘performance only’ function.

Leonard is constantly pushing to strive for quality and excellence with his work. He is one of the very talented weavers of his generation, with a reputation for tackling the more challenging and ambitious weaving techniques and methods. Whether learning to carve or weave, for Leonard, learning and understanding the traditional foundations of each art form is the required base to start to move creatively into new statements.

I find synthetic dyes an intrusion and not an enhancement to my work. When we stop using our traditional dyes, we lose a whole knowledge system. Besides keeping the art of dying and weaving processes present today, it keeps the art relevant so that it looks like it belongs in the home instead of the museum. - Karl Rangikawhiti Leonard

For more information or questions, please contact Tina Kuckkahn-Miller (360) 867-5344 or email kuckkaht@evergreen.edu.