Indigenous | Arts

Art exhibition brings Ngāti Porou artist home after 25 years


An art exhibition has brought together indigenous artists from across the Pacific and abroad to showcase their work to other artists in residence.

The Exodus Exhibitions kaupapa was the inspiration of Janelle Murphy, who says she was visited in a dream by her kuia Dame Whina-Cooper.

“She led people here in Aotearoa but now we are going across the Pacific and the globe, so she wanted me to do this.”

Murphy has gathered together eight indigenous artists from Hawai’i, Utah and California to work with local Māori and Pacific creatives as part of a project of creativity, culture and artistic expression.

Morgan Casey (Ngāti Porou) says her artistic aspirations were born at the same time as her children.

“Even in my career, it is all done either with them or inspired by them, and that is what has helped me to become a professional artist.”

Casey was raised mostly in the USA and hasn’t visited Aotearoa since she was 12 years old - more than 25 years ago, due to her 10-year-old son having special needs and making travel very difficult.

“International travel just hasn’t been on the cards for us, so it really was a blessing to have Janelle bring me back for this.”

“Being raised as a Māori and first generation in America, there has always been a yearning to come home.”


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Now based in Utah with her Navajo husband and five children, Casey has accumulated an impressive following on social media with more than 730,000 followers on TikTok alone. During Covid, her hit series was called ‘Drawing Our Followers with Random Things My Children Choose.’

“It was a lot of fun because it really pushed me outside of my comfort zone… One day they chose glitter, and then coffee, and then quilting.

“My professional career mostly consists of painting on canvas, and it also carries on to the social media side as well.”

As part of her commitment to fostering a dynamic arts community, Murphy hopes that the Exodus Exhibitions will provide a platform for both established and emerging artists to showcase their talent.