Journey Through The Stains

painter Ratoos Haopa, Jeffry Feeger and musician Pius Wasi
So its been a little while since we’ve had an update on our Portrait Specialist and Curious Artists Explorer, Jeffery Feeger. Jeff, you’ve been a busy busy boy in the last 2 years or so and especially after your Residency in New Zealand and your Chinese trips and projects, I hear you were in Hawaii lately? Tell us about that? 
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I was offered a 2 week artist residency at the university of Hawaii during November 2011. While I was there I was able to display my work in the Pacific collection at the University of Hawaii Library and participate in a group exhibition with other established Hawaiian artists at a gallery called Marks Garage. I also participated in a public forum called  AlternAPEC where alternative views were presented that opposed the APEC meeting in Honolulu at the time. I was a guest speaker and spoke about the informal economy of PNG, which was the main theme of my exhibited art work. I also perform live on two separate occasions, including a demonstration for the Iolane school  (http://www.iolani.org/news/unique-artist-inspires-students) and a dramatic final performance at the East West Center, I was able to donate the resulting paintings back to the institutions as a way of showing my gratitude for the opportunities afforded to me. I believe the entire experience was a successful endeavor for me to undertake and I have benefited immensely from the exchange of ideas and strengthening of relationships.
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Between now and before your Residency in New Zealand, what are the biggest things you have come to learn about your craft and yourself? 
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There has been a multitude of leaps and bounds in my understanding of my art and the purpose of it. The process has been a very organic one in that I’m constantly learning as I go along and my style and the processes of my work are constantly developing and taking shape. I’m ever pursuing a deeper understanding of the importance of ‘process’, such as the development of ethics, philosophy, ritual, commitment and passion, elements that harness and guide the power and potential of creation. I’ve learned to detach myself from the idea of success and remain grounded in my pursuit of fulfilling my creative potential.
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How do you balance family life and your artistic career?
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It is inevitable that aspects of my artistic journey take me through profound personal experiences that can be difficult for me to comprehend and share with others. I also travel a lot on my own for expeditions, international exhibitions and residencies and as such my family life can sometimes be precarious. To balance this out I’ve tried to integrate both family and artistic career as much as I possible can. I consider my life as my art and my paintings are only an extension of it. In recent works I involve my son, wife, relatives and friends by sharing the creation process in such activities as performance, painting, photography, video recording, music selection. I also prefer to select family and friends as my subject matter so that I can have a more meaningful experience and I can give back to them a percentage of the eventual sale of my art. My work does not always confine itself to me and this is what I enjoy the most about it.
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What are the biggest challenges you face with your career?
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I believe the interest for the contemporary art in PNG has dwindled away significantly in the past few decades resulting in the lack of appreciation and understanding of it’s value and purpose in our society. No one is prepared to take you seriously if you say your a contemporary artist and so the arts and my profession is something I’m constantly having to advocating for. But I guess that issue is miniscule compared to the more pressing challenges of just existing in PNG. Like everyone else I am finding it increasingly difficult to conduct myself creatively or even appropriately in a society that often is ignorant to basic human rights and lacks respect for the rule of law. Endemic corruption has plague our basic service delivery, making it difficult for any ordinary citizen to have fair opportunities to prosper or even survive. Thus my thoughts are always propelled toward improving our political and social climate.
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In China you began experimenting with music and painting as a unified performance, tell us about how you got into that and how its going now with ‘Journey Through the Stains’?
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In 2010 I participated in the shanghai World Expo as the lead curator for PNG’s showcase. While I was there setting up I had the privilege of meeting some of the worlds most talented musicians and performers. I was very excited and wanted to collaborate in some way so I began joining them up on stage. It was very popular and I soon was being offered opportunities to perform in various popular night spots throughout Shanghai. With such interest in my performances I traveled back to China at a later time to pursue these opportunities more fully. It just so happened that I found myself included in an international artist battle event, in which I ended up winning. I also returned to PNG with an entirely new way of looking at my art. It no longer had to be an individual creative process but I could share it in this unique way, which made a lot of sense to me, considering I come from a community orientated Melanesian way of life, where our experiences should be shared and that includes our art. I first began performances at home with friends or at private functions. I was able to meet other like-minded artists and musicians that enjoyed the performance aspect of art and we got together to support causes by performing. I thought the work we were doing was very significant so I titled our group ‘Journey through the stains’, since we were journeymen finding our own creative paths through the stains of life.
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Have you thought of any performances for  ‘Journey Through the Strains’ as a commentary on our political situation?
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I think the current political climate presents an ideal opportunity to take our work to a new level of social awareness.To speak to the minds of our people through a performance piece, is an exciting prospect. We are now discussing the idea of a public performance, out on the street, with a message for unity to put an end to the on going division of our leaders.
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2 thoughts on “Journey Through The Stains

  1. Great to hear Jeffry speak about his art so eloquently. His art reflects the tensions of his own life but also that of Papua New Guinea. How well he speaks about that. Good Luck on your remarkable artistic journey.

  2. I like the fact that you involve family into your workto fill that gap.It is a challenge in every career to balance family and work. All the best on “Journey Through The Stains”.

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