For years, I have titled this image “Elevala Woman”.
I was incorrect!
The power of social media and Kickstarter is amazing. During the expedition some 9 years ago, I had the privilege of photographing a special celebration (sing-sing) celebrating the 25th anniversary of Father Michael Igo’s ordination. It was held in the area of Hanuabada and Elevala, two distinct stilt villages just outside of Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea.
For three days, people from all over came to sing, dance and celebrate. I saw this stunning woman from a distance and photographed her as she stopped and looked directly into my camera. I was able to quickly share the image with her on the back of my camera but then she vanished into the crowd — never to be seen again. I did not know her name nor where she was from. She was titled “Elevala Woman” because that is where I photographed her.
Through all the publicity during Kickstarter, I was contacted by a woman who said “This is my aunt!” How exciting for me to now know her name, Leontine Taita Veata, and that she has 4 children. It was explained to me that when a woman marries into another clan, they become a part of it and she is part of the Upi Kupuna clan from the village of Kairuku.
Leontine is now “Kairuku Woman”, the village where she is from.
As I think about the new discovery, I remember the thrill of meeting descendants of Caroline’s paintings. Now I celebrate finding the person in my photo and her children and look forward to a day I hand them all prints as tribute to a beautiful woman. Leontine’s portrait is has also become art that spans oceans and decades.
For all of my Kickstarter Backers receiving a print of Leontine, I will also include a printed caption of who this stunning woman really is — a PERSON, not just a subject.