“My Place. My People. My Home.”
"Māori Mo Ake Tonu means Māori Forever. I call myself an AMaorican. I'm a mix of American and Maori-- like two sides of a single coin. My culture is a bridge between where I live now and where I came from and continues to influence my identity and sense of who I am. My mother taught me about my Maori culture in New Zealand through music. She used to play the ukulele and sang Maori songs to me. I can remember singing my favorite Maori love songs, Pokarekare Ana. When I am dancing, I wear the Rope Pare, ( top) , which I hand embroidered myself. It represents our link to San Francisco. The blue represents the waters, the white represents the fog, and the black highlights it all; the moko on my chin is a way to identify my tribal and family roots. Through these symbols, I have found a way to bring my Maori roots here where I now live.” - Tracey Panek
In this timely photo series “Who we are: the will to adorn”, the subjects adorn themselves with pieces of clothing and jewelry that have a history, sentimental meaning, and significance to their identity. In a time where racial division is on the rise and anti-immigration rhetoric is prevalent, it is a joining of women who have “the will”, the deliberate intention, to celebrate the beauty of who they are. The combination of photojournalistic photographs and unconventional portraiture place subjects in their own home or landscapes that resemble their native land. With this, I am inviting viewers to look, listen, and think about the significance of adornment, the value of culture, and the will that it takes to be who we are, truly and fearlessly in America.