Prayer of Stitches (Toe Fo’i)

Hand and machine stitched tivaevae quilt, 71”x42”

Our virtual story circles were a sacred, safe space for the community to gather and participate in the ceremony of storytelling. Storytelling is an exchange of generosities; the teller gifts their experience in vulnerability and the listeners gift their full attention and presence. 

In Cook Islands culture, tivaevae are ceremonial gifts that tell a story about place, time, and connections. This tivaevae was made to reciprocate the gifts of story I received from the community. The design is grounded in the nurturing care of taro, the dreams and visions the connect us to our ancestors, golden poppies that open and close with the sun in the way that grief ebbs and flows, and the spirit of the land, the ocean, and the people, which continues to burn.

The plants in the globes will root over the course of the exhibit (hopefully!), reminding us that life grows out of death. The globes are placed in the shape of the moon phase at the time of installation.

About Toe Fo‘i

Toe Fo’i:The Return is a community exhibit at Pacific Island Ethnic Art Museum, in collaboration with 5 Pasifika artists engaging the power of storytelling to humanize the numbers behind those lost to COVID-19. March 20 – August 21, 2022

The exhibit builds upon a series of story-circles held November 2021 through the February 2022, which reminds visitors that the stories of those lost are the stories of those who survived. Toe Foʻi: The Return is anchored to the role of artists as healers who move us collectively through this hurdle of misinformation, fear, mistrust, and entitlement. “This process recognizes and elevates our Pasifika artists as storytellers, culture bearers, and healers. It in itself is a return back to indigenous ways of healing,” says Kiana “Kiki” Rivera, Guest Curator.

Toe Foʻi: The Return brings the voices of the community through multidisciplinary art forms. Featuring works by: Melodie Bergquist-Turori, Ālaoi’a Moni Pili, Roldy Aguero Ablao, Mariquita “Micki” Davis, and Jason “JP” Pereira. In addition, an exterior installation entitled Hoʻokahi (Hawaiian word meaning “to make one”) also created by JP will tell a visual story of holistic wellness and resilience.