Ross School - Senior Project 2007-08

Student: Virginia Briggs

Mentor: Alexis Martino


Title: Te Maori: Maori inspired art

Description: My senior project was inspired by my M-term trip to New Zealand where we spent a week with six students our age from a Maori school. The Maori culture is extremely artistic and I was very inspired by it. For my project I created 15 pieces of original artwork that illustrate both cultural and personal views of the Maori. I used many different mediums and themes. At the end of the project I will be holding an art sale where of the proceeds will go directly to the school in New Zealand we visited.






























My senior project began when I got back from my M-Term trip to New Zealand last year. I was able to spend a week with the Maori, who are New Zealand's indigenous culture. For my senior project I decided to raise money in order to bring some of the Maori students we met in New Zealand to come here. Over the summer I curated an art auction that was held at the Ross School. The benefit had live music, food, and art for sale and auction. I had received donations from local artists and students in the Ross community. The show did not go as well as planned and not as many people showed up as I had hoped. I managed to raise around $4,000.00.

Getting back into school in September I was not as motivated as I had been earlier so I did more brainstorming on fund raising ideas such as art shows, bake sales and a dress down day. I realized that most of the ideas were not going to bring in the amount of money needed in time for my final goal. After much deliberating I decided to change my product, in early November I met with my mentor and the senior project committee and decided that my goal was going to be an art project. My final goal was to create 15 pieces of original artwork all inspired by my trip to New Zealand.

My final show consisted of two large paintings, a triptic of three small paintings, two drawings, two masks, two wooden pieces and two boxes. Most of my time went into my clay pieces which I made in the studio at Hayground school with Jon Snow. When I was making the paintings and boxes I was able to explore with color and style, it was more of a free flowing process where I was able to be messy. Both paintings were inspired by photographs from the trip. The drawings were a slow process, one was done looking at a photograph, and the other was a still life.

All of the clay pieces were made from high fire stoneware clay that was fired to cone 5, which is approximately 2,172 degrees F. The clay is first bisqued to cone 06 and then high fire glazes are applied. I used oxides and a variety of metallic based under glazes to highlight the carved lines I made on the surfaces of the forms. I chose colors for the glazes to suggest to the viewer the hardwoods that the original Maori artists worked in.

In doing this project I learned a lot more about the Maori culture as well as myself as an artist. My art has varied from mostly paintings to different mediums such as ceramics and drawings.

I still plan on raising more money for the school.  In the near future I will be having an art sale to raise money. I am going to sell my art as well as the art that did not sell from my auction in the summer.

Works Consulted

"Art History & Culture." Windwand. Viewed 12 Nov. 2007. <>.

"Early Maori Woodcarvings." Timeline of Art History. Viewed 12 Nov. 2007. <>.

Mead, S. M. Te Maori: Maori Art From New Zealand Collections. New York; Harry N Abrams, 1984.

New Zealand Maori Art. Viewed 29 Nov. 2007. <

"New Zealand in History." New Zealand in History. Viewed 12 Nov. 2007 .<>.

Royal, John. "Maori Art." Email to the author. 24 July 2007.

Snow, Jon. "Senior Project Ideas." Email to the author. 28 Nov. 2007.

Whale Rider. Dir. Niki Caro. Perf. Keisha Castle-Hughes. DVD. Columbia, 2002.

Community Member (Details)

Jon Snow, Art director of the Haygrond school and longterm mentor of mine.