Pelenakeke (Keke) Brown


My art practice is grounded within the Samoan concept of the vā or 'in-between space.' Vā centers spatial relationships as a way to understand and move in the world. In my art practice, this translates to interrogating relationships, how we relate to ourselves, each other and the larger world. This can be between humans but also includes within structures of power and other ephemera. I am fascinated with the in-between space in which we spatially relate with each other and how our in-between spaces inform the way we move in the world. My work whether it be through hair, the medical file or technology and Samoan tatau (tattoo) is looking at the connections between the self and the outside world and the relational grounding that occurs in this in-between vā (space).


Pelenakeke (Keke) Brown is a multi-disciplinary artist based in New York City. Her practice includes drawing, writing, storytelling and movement. All her work is rooted within the Samoan concept of the ‘va’ or 'in-between space.’ As a New Zealand born, afakasi Samoan, immigrant, disabled woman she is interested in the in-between spaces we each inhabit.

She is a 2018 Create Change Fellow with the Laundromat Project and appointed to Dance/NYC's Immigrant Artists Initiative 2017-18, offering an immigrant dancer's perspective. Pelenakeke is a founding member of Touch Compass, New Zealand's first mixed-ability dance company. 

Pelenakeke is a 2016 NYFA Immigrant Artist Program alumni. She has attended residencies at the Vermont Studio Center (VT), Denniston Hill (NY) and Ana Pekapeka Studio (NZ). Her non-fiction creative work has been published in the James Franco Review, Movement Research Journal, The Hawaii Review, and in the Apogee Journal's, Indigenous #NoDAPL special edition. 

She has attended the National Academy School of Fine Art, Studio Intensive Program, NY and received a BA in English literature and Pacific Studies, focusing on art and literature by indigenous people as well as post colonial theory, from Auckland University, NZ.  Currently she is the Assistant Director of Culture Push, a NYC based non-profit arts organization. 


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