Bethany (Betni) Kalk is a Canadian who grew up in Sawiyano village in the West Sepik Region with her missionary parents. Now a Professor of Art and Design in Omaha, she has accepted to come to Sydney in July 2018 to give an OAS Lecture.
“Sawiyano: Traditional Arts & Crafts” is a set of clips of food gathering and crafts processes, a documentary and book about the Sawiyano who live the East Sepik Province of Papua New Guinea. By following the daily lives of families, it is an intimate view into the lives of a tribe in the midst of cultural change. It will show where and how supplies are gathered in the rainforest and swamp, how objects are crafted, and the final uses of objects.
The elders gave Betni Kalk permission to do this documentary. This is be a collaboration between her and Sawiyano who wished to participate in the project. They chose the aspects of their lives they wished to share and shot their own videos. They also took a photographs.
Having grown up in the Sawiyano tribe, Betni has an understanding of and deep appreciation for the traditional ways. Since earning a BFA and MFA in Painting and Drawing, she has an even greater respect for the arts and craft of the Sawiyano. As of Jan 2017 – Roads were being made into the region for mining and logging. Because the culture is changing, it is important to capture traditional elements on film and in photos before more elders die. Not only is the documentation for the future generations of Sawiyano, hopefully this will allow others to gain an appreciation for the Sawiyano culture and to develop an interest in other indigenous cultures. Because traditional ways disappear as natural resources are depleted, it is hoped that the documentary will show the importance of leaving most areas of the rainforest intact.