Casino Anbieter - Headhunt Revisited

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Casino Anbieter - Headhunt Revisited
TEXT: DEBORAH KIRK
Photos: Michele Westmorland
Art of the Headhunt
Female pioneer Caroline Mytinger’s unprecedented expedition to paint Melanesia’s
inhabitants—the first woman ever to make this journey—and photographer Michele
Westmorland’s quest to share her story
In March 1926, Caroline Mytinger, a young
artist and amateur anthropologist, left the
United States for an unprecedented journey to
the South Pacific. An accomplished portrait
painter, Gibson Girl model, and irrepressible
bohemian, Mytinger had become fascinated
with what she called “vanishing races”—the
world’s cultures that, she felt, were at risk of
losing their ethnic identities in an increasingly
globalized world. Her mission: to produce a
pictorial record of Melanesia’s diverse peoples.
Her expedition, which lasted four years,
led to a remarkable body of work: twentyfive portraits of indigenous Melanesians,
countless commissioned portraits of expats
and colonists, elaborate scrapbooks, and two
compulsively readable books. Not published
until the 1940s, her books, Headhunting in the
Solomon Islands and New Guinea Headhunt, were
critically acclaimed at the time, but Mytinger
fell into obscurity with the outbreak of
World War II and, as the decades passed, her
increasing reclusiveness.
One wonders: How has Mytinger’s story never
been told before? With the fascination we
have for tales of ahead-of-their-time female
adventurers like Amelia Earhart, how has
Mytinger’s story been overlooked? A new
Caroline Mytinger and Margaret Warner on the
first stop of their journey in 1926, New Zealand.
They were on their way to paint portraits in the
Solomon Islands and Papua New Guinea.
HEADHUNTREVISITED.ORG
32 ORIGINMAGAZINE.COM
multimedia project, conceived and directed
by photographer Michele Westmorland, will
attempt to answer these questions.
Caroline Mytinger: Painter of
“Vanishing Cultures”
Born in Sacramento in 1897, Mytinger may
have inherited her appetite for adventure from
her father, an inventor and prospector who
died in the Klondike gold rush when Mytinger
was just one year old. She moved to Ohio
with her mother and went on to study art in
Cleveland, where she was known as the “most
beautiful woman” in the city, according to one
newspaper account. She began a promising
modeling career and sat for such renowned
artists as Charles Dana Gibson. She married
a prominent Cleveland doctor, George
Stober, but realized early that domesticity
would never suit her. As she wrote, “I was
an anarchist and I would never live in the
conventional groove of matrimony.”
She left her husband and studied all the
available literature about Melanesia. She
chose to paint the indigenous peoples in
this part of the world, she wrote, because of
the “compactness and accessibility of their
country . . . for to paint a complete portrait
Photo from scrapbook of Caroline Mytinger and
Margaret Warner on a small expedition vessel, 1929.
of a race, its members cannot be spread from
one Pole to the other as are, for instance, our
nearer-to-home ‘vanishing primitives,’ the
Indians.”
Mytinger found the ideal traveling partner
in her childhood friend Margaret Warner.
Mytinger’s fearless equal, Warner played
an enormous role in the success of the
expedition, entertaining portrait sitters and
keeping Mytinger’s spirits up in the face of
hardships, including malaria, snakes, fevers,
jungle rot, lost art supplies, and local sorcery.
Di s b e l i e v i n g
fr i e n ds h a d a
c a s e wh e n t h e y
said no female
ou tfi t s u c h a s
ou r s c ou l d g o
a l on e to p a i n t
h e a dh u n te r s a n d
c om e b a c k wi t h
th e i r own h e a ds .
No m a n h a d don e
i t . No m a n h a d y e t
tr i e d, we r e p l i e d.
—Caroline Mytinger
Mytinger chronicled the first two years of the
trip in Headhunting in the Solomon Islands and
the last two in New Guinea Headhunt. (She
chose these titles for the double entendre;
not only was she painting headhunters, she
herself was looking for “heads” to paint.) In
her portraits, she captured men, women,
and children in native dress and ceremonial
headdresses, their lifestyles, and ritualistic
traditions. Perhaps most important, her
artwork conveys the dignity and humanity
of her subjects; there is never the slightest
trace of condescension or “noble savage”
stereotyping.
Caroline Mytinger paints Sarli and Wife in Samarai, Papua New Guinea, circa 1928.
Photo from Caroline scrapbook held by Monterey Museum of Art.
CAROLINE MYTINGER ARTWORK: PHOEBE A. HEARST MUSEUM OF ANTHROPOLOGY
AND THE REGENTS OF UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA, BERKELEY
Photo of Caroline Mytinger from her book Headhunting in the Solomon Islands, published in 1942
ORIGINMAGAZINE.COM 33
art of the
headhunt
(CONTINUED)
Michele Westmorland: Connecting Past and Present
Eighty years later, Mytinger’s paintings
continue to inspire contemporary artists.
Michele Westmorland—who has been
documenting Papua New Guinean culture for
years—learned about the Mytinger archives
at U.C. Berkeley. When she saw the actual,
still-vibrant portraits that had long sat crated
away in storage, she knew what she had to
do. Westmorland embarked on a two-month
expedition to Melanesia to retrace Mytinger’s
journey and learn how the culture has since
evolved.
Marovo Lagoon Family by Caroline Mytinger, 1928. Young
man with his parents in traditional attire. Marovo Lagoon,
Solomon Islands. Artwork: PAHMA, Berkeley.
Kai Kai by Caroline Mytinger, 1929. Robin from the Torres
Strait. The word “kai-kai” means “food” or “meal” in pidgin.
Artwork: PAHMA, Berkeley.
When she showed reproductions of
Mytinger’s portraits to the islanders of
today, she was met with astonishment;
they had never seen the body decorations
favored by their ancestors. Remarkably, she
discovered descendants of the subjects of
four of Caroline’s paintings. Westmorland
was able to create an important dialogue with
Melanesians regarding change, adaptation,
religion, and culture, with Mytinger’s
paintings serving as the link between the
islanders’ past and present.
With the success of her own expedition,
Westmorland has launched a multimedia
Fish-eye view of men in traditional dress. On expedition, Oro Province sing-sing, Kofure Village, Tufi / Cape Nelson area, Papua New
Guinea. Photo by Michele Westmorland.
project called Headhunt Revisited in which
she examines the significance of Mytinger’s
story not only for today’s Melanesians but also
for today’s artists. A book and documentary
film under development, Headhunt Revisited
explores the power of art to span oceans and
decades, inspiring others to communicate
stories of culture and tradition.
You can help bring this documentary film
to completion by making a tax-deductible
donation through Documentary Educational
Resources at HeadhuntRevisited.org.
Portrait of a young Kairuku woman, photographed on the 2005
expedition, at the celebration of the twenty-fifth anniversary of
Father Michael Igo’s priesthood. Elevala Village, Port Moresby,
Papua New Guinea. Photo by Michele Westmorland.
Heera by Caroline Mytinger. Subject is Ahuia wearing the headdress, a significant style—many of which were destroyed by
missionaries. Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea. Artwork: PAHMA, Berkeley.
When Mytinger and Warner returned to the
U.S., the country was in the grips of the Great
Depression. Reestablishing her career became
one of the greatest challenges Mytinger faced
for the remainder of her life.
She achieved a measure of success exhibiting
her Melanesian portraits. With the support
of anthropologist Margaret Mead, Mytinger
had an exhibition at the American Museum of
Natural History in New York; her portraits
were also exhibited at five other national
museums.
Mytinger moved to Monterey, Calif., and
supported herself by returning to her first
career: painting portraits on commission. The
Monterey Peninsula had become a prominent
artists’ colony and was the ideal environment
for Mytinger, who wanted to live alone, on
her own terms, amidst other like-minded
creative spirits. She died there in 1980 at the
age of eighty-three, leaving her Melanesian
portraits and related ephemera to the Phoebe
A. Hearst Museum of Anthropology at
University of California, Berkeley, where they
have remained in storage for decades.
C arol ine w an t ed t o pai n t p o r t r a it s w it h d ignit y . I w a nte d
to t ake pho t o g r aph s sh o w ing t ha t s a m e s e ns e o f p r id e .
— M i c h e l e W e st mo r l a n d
34 ORIGINMAGAZINE.COM
Volcano man Ken Kolias, who lives in the shadow of Tavurvur, a volcano. His stories of past and present
are important to explain the hardships nature plays out living in such a volcanic region. Rabaul, East New
Britain province, Papua New Guinea. Photographed on expedition by Michele Westmorland.
Photo was not staged and shows that some things don’t change in traditional attire.
Little Banana by Caroline Mytinger, 1928, paired with contemporary photo by Michele
Westmorland. Artwork: PAHMA, Berkeley.
ORIGINMAGAZINE.COM 35

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