Image credit: Gracieuse Amah, TAKEBACK! 2021, photos by Deshani Berhardt

Announcing the Diasporas 2023 Artist Team

MAV is excited to share with you the Diasporas Artist Team, put together by the Diasporas Advisory Group.

We would like to congratulate Vicki Kinai, Irihipeti Waretini, Katherine Gailer, Bella Waru, MzRizk and Julie Ann Minaai!

This team of artists span many different art forms including but not limited to dance, weaving, filmmaking, visual and NFT art, DJ'ing, movement and sound art.

These creatives are power houses, so watch this space as they collaborate to create something truly special for Diasporas 2023.

Diasporas 2023 is supported by the City of Melbourne.

Project

Creatives

Katherine Gailer

Colombian Artist

Katherine Gailer (aka Katira) is a Colombian artist currently based in Melbourne. Gailer graduated with a Bachelor of Fine Arts and a Master of Arts Management degree from RMIT University, both awarded with honours. Her work explores cultural identity, the natural environment, women's empowerment, magical realism, and contemporary design through large-scale mural painting, oil painting, illustration and music. As part of her creative expression, she examines the intricate relationships between vulnerability, strength, and empowerment. Her dream-like compositions celebrate resilience and liberation, and urge us to restore the invisible fabric that weaves human beings and nature together. Rediscovering a sense of the sacred and revisiting our ancient past are the driving forces in developing her artworks. Her work challenges constructed social structures and reclaims the much needed space for diverse cultural expression and women at the forefront of social change. Gailer’s work has been awarded the People’s Choice Award at Corangamarah Art Prize 2018, Packer’s Art Prize 2018 (Red Rock Regional Gallery, Victoria) and ROI Art Prize 2017. (Melbourne). Gailer is also the lead singer of Melbourne-based folktronica band Amaru Tribe, combining urban sounds with her voice to represent women on stage. Her composition El Girasol – in collaboration with Oscar Jimenez and Leonardo Rodriguez was selected as a finalist at the 2018 International Songwriting Competition.

Julie Ann Minaai

International Dance Artist

Originally from Honolulu, Hawaii, Julie Ann Minaai is an international dance artist with Japanese heritage. She has trained in both the US and UK, and completed her MA in Contemporary Dance from the London Contemporary Dance School. Julie has spent the last 12 years in the UK and was recognised as an Artist of Exceptional Promise by the Arts Council England. Since arriving in Naarm 12 months ago, she has established herself as a recognised dance artist with a clear voice, purpose, impact and reach. Key recent highlights have included: a City of Melbourne 2023 Arts Projects grant for a cross-cultural collaboration with the Immigration Museum; an artist residency in Brimbank (The Be Bold Residency); resident choreographer and the creation of a new work ‘BORO’ for the VCA Dance’s Graduation Season 2022; upcoming role as a dancer and performer in Director Meryl Tankard AO, composer Elena Kats-Chernin AO and visual artist Régis Lansac OAM’s ‘KAIROS’ Production in Sydney Festival 2023; MANA, a collaboration with Taiko Master, Toshi Sakamoto and renowned Japanese Shamisen virtuoso, Noriko Tadano; a mentor role in supporting an emerging hip hop dance artist as part of the L2R Mentorship programme; and pro bono outreach workshops conducted in community groups in the CBD, Brimbank and Nunawading. Julie has toured nationally in the UK and internationally (Norway, Israel, China, South Korea, Colombia & Peru) with renowned choreographers, contemporary dance companies and productions. Selected credits: Donald McKayle, Royal Opera House's Die Zauberflote, Peter Darling & Ellen Kane (Groundhog Day and Matilda The Musical), Duwane Taylor, Dickson Mbi Company, Avant Garde Dance Company, James Cousins, Flexer & Sandiland, English National Opera's Madam Butterfly, Richard Malone's LFW Presentation, Lynne Page (Pet Shop Boys, Stormzy’s 2018 and Jess Glynne's 2019 BRIT Awards Performances), Caroline Pope (ITV’s Mr. Selfridge), Lucy Hind (Nick Frost, Simon Peg & Amazon Prime Original Truth Seekers), La Dispute’s Woman (Reading) and ASDA & Th1ng Corp’s Battles Campaign. Julie has been commissioned to teach and create works internationally: Laguna Beach Dance Festival (California), National Dance Festival (Pennsylvania), Paliku Theatre (Hawaii), U.Dance National Festival (Plymouth), The Place (London) and Jeju (South Korea). Julie’s most recent dance film, ba(ME), funded by Arts Council England, has been selected for screenings internationally: The Place (London, UK), Utah Dance Film Festival (USA), Indepen-dance’s Gathered Together Festival (Glasgow, UK), Portland Dance Film Festival (Oregon, USA), INFINITY 2022 Festival (Osaka, Japan), International Portrait Film Festival (Sofia, Bulgaria), InShadow - Lisbon Screendance Festival (Lisbon, Portugal) and Subtropic Film Festival (Taipei, Taiwan). Julie teaches at Chunky Move, Lucy Guerin Inc. and University of Melbourne’s Victorian College of the Arts (VCA) Dance. She has devised and delivered creative movement and mindfulness + mobility workshops for participants from diverse backgrounds.

Irihipeti Waretini

Visual and Vocal Storyteller

Irihipeti Waretini is of Ngāti Rangi descent, whose experiences of home and healing on the unceded lands of the Wurundjeri Woiwurrung and Boon Wurrung peoples, determine every aspect of her trans-disciplinary practice. A visual and vocal storyteller, Irihipeti’s mediums are vast and fluid. A collection of gifts in contemporary Māori art, photography, film, movement, personal essay, soundscape, audio scripts, live looping, and taonga puoro (traditional Māori flute). Waretini Productions is a collaboration with her brother Eneti Te Kooro and his practise of projection art and 3d modelling. A community and cultural engagement practitioner working at the intersection of arts and wellbeing, Irihipeti develops repositories of Indigenous methodologies, experiences and viewpoints through various collaborations, creative ventures, movements and wellness-based practises. Providing tools and spaces of learning for the self-determination of the very communities who have fed and raised her and her daughter Marcelina.

Bella Waru

Movement and Sound Artist, Cultural Producer, Performer, Weaver, Community Arts Facilitator and Body Worker

Bella Waru (Ngati Tukorehe // Te Ati Awa) is a movement and sound artist, cultural producer, performer, weaver, community arts facilitator and body worker living, listening and responding across sacred, unceded indigenous lands, currently those of the Kulin nation in so-called-australia. For the past 2 years, they have worked in the community arts sector with BigHart as a YouthArts Mentor, working with young people in Frankston schools, facilitating capacity-building workshops and supporting the production of community arts events and content. They are a bodyworker/traditional Māorihealer of 4 years and a traditional martial arts practitioner of 2 years. They have now taken up a position as Vice Chair and Kaiako MauTaiaha/teacher for Te Ara Hononga - the MāoriWeaponry school based on Kulin Country.

Vicki Kinai

Weaver

"Weaving with textile, plastic, and nature, anything flexible has been my practice since childhood. As a child, I learnt to create by way of weaving with my grandmother, mother and aunties growing up in my village in Mt Hagen. I learnt to weave before I went to school. A bag known as Bilum in Papua New Guinea is woven with a continuous figure eight stitch using twisted bark fibre, cotton, and wool. The woven bilum comes in all shapes, sizes patterns and varying uses, including carrying babies. Since I migrated to Australia, 18 years ago and living in Melbourne, the City of Art I knew I had in me unique culture, gifted to me by my grandmother, mother and aunties. I realised the need to PRACTICE it for safekeeping. Also, I am obligated to teach young people from my own cultural background while living away from my country of origin, and this is exactly what I do as a senior person living here in Australia. I am at peace when I design and create something from nothing, I have taught the weaving skill to a lot of people over the years that I have lived here in Australia. I have won awards, as Cultural Ambassador with MAV and Aunty Sana Award during the Pacific Arts Festival as the only person sharing my culture connecting and reaching a lot of people in the community. I have worked in collaboration with both local and international artists on different projects including Indigenous, Asian, Pacific, and African artists most of whom are weavers. Currently, am a senior member of an Art Collective ‘Mata’ala Weavers, a closed group that I teach weaving to our own Pacific Islander youth and mothers monthly. I am very active in the community in Wyndham, making art with families, youth, and Seniors. Also, I have been awarded two commissioned artworks by Melton and Wyndham Councils."

MzRizk

DJ, Event Curator and Radio Presenter

Pioneering Lebanese Australian DJ, radio presenter and event curator, **MzRizk** has always had a powerful affinity with music. Raised on a seemingly incongruous yet wholly satisfying sonic diet of Arabic, Boogie, Jazz, Heavy Metal, House, Techno, Hip Hop and just about anything from Rick Dees American Top 40, MzRizk is a self taught, community emboldened, creative chameleon.