Weaving earth stories : practicing art sustainably and collaboratively with community and cow dung : an exegesis presented in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the postgraduate degree of Master of Fine Arts at Massey University, Wellington, New Zealand

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Massey University
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This exegesis is a record of my MFA journey, in a new country, in a phase of my practice that had already matured to a degree where I was clear what direction and conscious choices I wanted to pursue as an artist and a human on this planet. Before migrating from India to New Zealand, I had determined that cow dung was a material in abundance with many redeeming properties. While this material is extremely significant to me and the culture I grew up in, it is strangely regarded as a waste or a nuisance in NZ. A paradox emerged: New Zealand’s problem with cow manure offers its own solution using traditional craft knowledge that I brought with me. The thesis project developed over the two years of study and evolved from a solo studio artist making sculptures to a socially engaged community-based artist collaborating, leading, and facilitating the material’s capacity in the New Zealand context. The research project consists of a collection of early works that were representational and figurative in nature and focussed on presenting a personal narrative. Throughout these experiences, I was adapting to New Zealand weather, culture, soil, customs, and climate in relation to cow dung; I was finding my feet. A collection of three works followed that each demonstrate the evolution of my creative practice in this space of working with communities, ecological concepts, and cow dung.
community, creative practice, collaboration, sustainability, environment, socially engaged art practice, cow dung