Jess Paraone

Nga Puhi

“My training in the traditions of Maori raranga (weaving) has always been the doorway through which I have been able to investigate and explore Te Ao Maori, whanau, wahanuangatanga and the values that underpin the Maori world-view. As a contemporary Maori artist finding new relevance for these forms in our present times has always been the motivator for the works I currently create, It is the search for forms and mediums that I bring my voice to the visual language that is Maori.”

Jess Paraone’s first encounter with weaving was at the side of a kuia (elder) of Ngati Awa. Having later completed formal training at Unitec, Auckland, Jess continues to explore weaving ideas and learning with other weavers throughout the motu (island).

“Raranga (weaving) has become a constant companion to me. It is not what I do but rather who I am. Raranga, I think, captures the true meaning of the word ‘mahi’. That is work that fully engages a person’s thoughts, feelings and spirit and these are then translated through the hands. When you become intimate with raranga in this way, it is a model that is applied in other areas of your life.”

“I am passionate about making kete. Kete are the most mobile form of the art of Maori weaving. They get to go out with their owners and they then attract people to themselves. In this way kete have the power to bring people together, and a conversation begins. However, sculptural work is a newer direction for me and brings with it scope to share philosophical views with others. At this point I am working with woven PouPou forms. For me PouPou serve as a point of reference. They provide grounding and centredness to a given kaupapa.”

Currently based in Auckland, Jess is an accomplished weaver of fine kete and other woven form. Jess creates exquisite work that reflects her respect for the traditions and spirituality that encompass the art of raranga. Jess’s work can be found at select galleries and is also available by commission.