After several years of research, fundraising and planning, I traveled to the Solomon Islands and Papua New Guinea with another photographer to document existing cultural practices along coastal areas. Our goal was to see what we could find 80 years after two other American women - Caroline Mytinger and Margaret Warner - had journeyed there to paint and write about cultures in transition. In the 1920s, these areas were undergoing rapid change due to plantation development, missionary efforts and related western expansion.
Much to our delight, we were able to find descendants of some of Caroline's portrait subjects, and to document the rekindling of formerly outlawed cultural practices (thankfully, not headhunting). The old ways, much of them forgotten, are being studied and revitalized by the locals and often synthesized with current religious beliefs. For example, in one village we found an old-style raiding canoe that had been built using some plastic in place of abalone shell. The day we visited, the canoe was being launched in celebration of a Methodist holy day.
Our two-month long trip was an officially sanctioned flag expedition of The Explorers Club and the Society of Women Geographers.