Yvonne C. Neth was born on the island of Pohnpei in the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM) to Pohnpeian and Chamorro parents. She spent her growing years both on Pohnpei and on the island of Saipan in the Northern Marianas. She later attended University of Hawaii at Manoa, earning a degree in cultural anthropology, and also obtained her commercial pilot’s license. Yvonne returned to Pohnpei in 2009, worked as a co-pilot for Caroline Islands Air, and eventually became the Operations Inspector for the FSM Division of Civil Aviation. In her free time, Yvonne serves as the Vice Director for the Island Research & Education Initiative, a not‐for-profit, non-governmental organization dedicated to producing culturally-relevant educational materials for Micronesia’s students and conducting anthropological, environmental, and geological research in the region. Yvonne works with a variety of media, including charcoal, graphite, colored pencil, conte crayon, ink, and pastel. She is self-taught.
I was never one to draw anything at a moment’s notice; in fact, I failed drawing class in University. But upon graduating and returning home to Micronesia, I was struck dumb by all I had taken for granted: the underdeveloped status of this country sustained so beautiful a thing as simple living, clear waters bountiful with amazing life, and land unspoiled by the greedy hand of modern industry and commercial tourism. But even this underdeveloped county, like many others, was unable to escape entirely the reach of progressive technology and foreign influences. Our culture was vanishing.
Inspiration began in response to the vanishing of culture and I was finally moved to draw. Let it be known: charcoal is quite a forgiving medium, and as a self-taught artist, it was the perfect instrument for me. For the first time in my life, I was able to create something with purpose.
I have created a small collection of portraits since then, faces I felt conveyed an immediate sense of history, culture and time. In one portrait you have an Outer Island man decorated with shell earrings, in another a still of a young warrior while performing the fierce war dance of his island. The purpose of my art is cultural preservation, and I use them as instruments of awareness.
Today, my interests have expanded to the pressing issues of environmental conservation, issues such as overfishing, erosion, failing health of Micronesian reef systems, etc. I am beginning a new series and I mean to encourage viewers to see what is disappearing and realize: 1. We created this problem, we can fix it, and 2. Fix it now.
b. 1980, Kolonia, Micronesia
Lives and works in Kolonia, Micronesia