Pacific Flower by Rachael Rakena

The artwork of Rachael Rakena, a Maori artist from New Zealand, is both ethereal and political in nature, harmonizing two opposing concepts through digital art. As a Maori person, Rachael uses digital art forms to contribute to the discussions on contemporary Maori art (and artists). Using such technologies, Rachael combines traditional Maori philosophies and contemporary ideas of identity, to create a continuum and movement in the spaces of her work.

One of Rachael’s artworks, Pacific Flower (2008) is a series of digital still images, where the women floating in water are warped and fragmented to create geometric shapes of themselves. Given the name, Pacific Flower, the viewer is left to assume that the women in the works are either of Maori descent, or of another Indigenous culture from the Pacific region, specifically, those who would call themselves Polynesian. The use of water in not just this piece, but all of the artists’ works, is important to her personally, as it is a tribal space, that presents the Maori identity as one that is deeply connected to not just the land, but the water around the land, as well as acting like an amniotic fluid, metaphorically protecting the culture of her people.

A work that both promotes the use of digital mediums and playing with natural elements, Rachael Rakena’s Pacific Flower series also uses these mediums to emphasize on her cultural identity. Digital imagery, a contemporary art form, and water, a natural element that has been around forever, compliment the nature behind the artists’ work; one of finding a balance with keeping a cultural identity alive, in an ever-changing and contemporising world.

-Anna Paluch