Etan Pavavalung

Etan Pavavalung, a Paiwan artist, was born in Tavalan Community, Sandimen Township, Pingtung County. His art creations range from poetry, prose, reportage, painting, print, carving, advertisement design, installation, and documentary.

Indigenous Land and Name movements in the 90s have enlightened Etan to create arts. He designed the. t-shirt and posters for the indigenous movements with lily flowers, representing indigenous peoples in the hope of symbolizing indigenous identity and the image of indigenous rebirth and redemption. By way of documentaries such as “She with the Patterned Hands,” “Hands that Tell Tales of the Mountains,” Brothers Who Sing of Love and Longing,” “The Fragrant Mountain Winds,” “Mountain Tribe and Sea Tribe,”Etan tries to create an alternative indigenous visual aesthetic juxtaposed with a literary, poetic perspective.

Etan excels at detailed and expressive painting in his visual artwork to deliver his literary views and contemporariness. He developed the innovative visual art form, “Trace Layer Carve Paint,” exhibited at the National Taiwan Museum of Fine Arts, Taipei Fine Arts Museum, and Pingtung Arts Museum. He takes for inspiration the sustainable ‘trace’ hidden in the land, mountains, and nature and the repetitive ‘layers’ of slate houses that constitute the texture of civilization. He then ‘carves’ out patterns and lines with chisels and ‘paints’ with the colors that change with the seasons. His artwork connects with ancient indigenous wisdom and converses with Christian eco-theology while searching for internal harmony and artistic thinking in rebirth.

排灣族Paiwan/Etan Pavavalung

賽德克族Seediq/Walis Labai

Walis Labai

Walis Labai used to regard himself as Chinese and Taiwanese, thinking that the mainland across the Taiwan Strait was where he should go to. Now he believes his hometown, Meixi, once segregated from other Han-Taiwanese towns, is the place he should return to. After studying abroad in the United States, he went back to Taiwan to teach in an indigenous studies program at Chung Yuan University.

He constantly contemplates indigeneity and hunting culture, which he believes can be adjusted with time in contemporary society. He also has long-term concern on indigenous issues, advocating for indigenous traditional culture. Walis thinks that despite the disintegration of indigenous communities due to population outflow, colonization along with modern technology (the internet) that brought into indigenous communities have connected people who live away from their hometown.

He got a lot of inspiration from the history of antiques. The charming smell of watercolor, calligraphy, and books stimulates his creativity. Walis also gains creative momentum for his mother, who is a ritual specialist and knew some traditional shamanism. He thinks that the "modernity" of indigenous art is not yet established because indigenous peoples are stuck in their identity issues and, therefore, conservative. Instead, every moment should be an essential piece that constitutes modernity, but how to skillfully cut the pieces meticulously and delicately for exploration still needs more discussions to answer.



Kati Lawas, an Amis artist, grew up in a city away from his hometown. For a long time, he felt mentally uprooted from his culture. After graduating from Hualien Normal College, he returned to his hometown and worked in the local school where he taught traditional dance with support from the school principal and students' families. Initially, he intended to teach the students traditional dance, and Kati gradually developed his choreographic style. 

Therefore, in 2005 he established a modern dance theater to give local children professional training. Moreover, he went to the Ph.D. program of Graduate Institute of Dance at Taipei National University of the Arts for which he did extensive field studies in traditional dance and theory to teach local children. Most children who entered the theater are in elementary school—his teaching focus on making the children concentrate on interacting with the dance at the given moment. Kati sees his students as treasures to whom he holds solid educational responsibility.

Kati has initially analyzed some phenomena regarding indigenous contemporary/modern and music/dance troupes: first, most works from the Formosa Aboriginal Singing and Dance Troupe were passed down and presented in the form of contemporary art. Second, some amateur dancers, although without professional training, are becoming a new type of dancer. They have a uniquely theatrical style and are more tourist-oriented and localized groups. He once again emphasized that the one’s ability to deeply understand body is far more important than to have professional training.

Malay Makakazuwan

Malay Makakazuwan, a Puyumayan artist from the Pinaski community, Taitung, grew up with her mumu (grandparents) and younger brother in Pinaski. Makakazuwan's parents are the first generation of urban indigenous in her family. Her father became a career soldier after graduating from the military academy. Her mother went to Taipei to study in a nursing program and moved to Hualien to work in a hospital until now. After junior high school, Makakazuwan moved to Hualien to live with her mother. During that time, she came back and forth between Hualien and her hometown, and such experiences have provided her a lot of inspiration in art.

She finished her art education in senior high schools from Kaohsiung and Taipei. After graduation, Makakazuwan worked for a design company in Taipei, where she faced stereotypes and discrimination against indigenous peoples. At the same time, she felt upset that she failed to express feelings through illustrations and graphic design on such oppression

Therefore, she decided to study Ethnic Relations and Culture at Dong Hwa University. She gained an identity when she found her story resonated with the indigenous history she learned from college.

She believes that creativity lies in the process of finding a self-identity. And a self-identity is found by contrasting one's life experience with artworks that are based on legends, oral history, and made of natural material, plants that once existed within an ethnic group.

卑南族Pinuyumayan/Malay Makakazuwan