Exploring the Highlands of New Guinea: Art, Science, and Conservation (03:49)
Biography for Christina Hellmich


The Conservatory of Flowers: A Historic Building with Living Collections (05:00)
Biographies for Clare Cangiolosi, Purago Marabe, and Eric Imperiale

“Orchids from the New Guinea Highlands”
Biography for Eric Imperiale

“A Conversation about Orchids of the New Guinea Highlands”
Biographies for Eric Imperiale and Purago Marabe


“Pitohui Birds”
Biography for Dr. Jack Dumbacher
For additional information about Dr. Dumbacher's research on the ecology and evolution of birds, visit Jack’s page on the California Academy of Sciences website.

“Birds of Paradise”
Biography for Dr. Jack Dumbacher
For additional information about his research on the ecology and evolution of birds, visit Jack’s page on the California Academy of Sciences website.

“Cassowary Birds”
Biography for Dr. Jack Dumbacher
For additional information about his research on the ecology and evolution of birds, visit Jack’s page on the California Academy of Sciences website.

“The Importance of New Guinea Birds”
Biography for Michael Mel

Art and Society

“The Village in the New Guinea Highlands”
Biography for Purago Marabe

“Introduction to the Bilum (string bag)”
Biography for Michael Mel

“Cathy Kata: A Bilum (string bag) Artist”
Biography for Cathy Kata

“Artists Discuss the Bilum”
Biography for Purago Marabe and Martin Morububuna

“Purago Marabe: Portrait of an Artist”
Biography for Purago Marabe


“Land and Community in the New Guinea Highlands”
Biography for Michael Mel

“Ferns and Trees in the New Guinea Highlands”
Biography for Purago Marabe


Clare Cangiolosi began studying horticulture and volunteering at the Conservatory of Flowers in the 1990s. When a violent storm damaged the building in 1995, she wrapped her legs in towels and waded through the shattered glass. Hired in 1997 as a gardener and promoted two years later to nursery specialist, Cangiolosi restored the high-altitude tropical orchid collection to its position as one of the finest in the world. She was thrilled to see the restored building reopen in 2003. She says, "I'm like a greedy little child. I can't get enough of it. These plants give out pure oxygen, so you can't help but want to be here."
Adapted from Bruce Newman, “City Lights,” Via Magazine, March 2005.

Jack Dumbacher is curator of Birds and Mammals at the California Academy of Sciences. He has studied New Guinea and western Pacific birds for over 15 years, and he is currently focused on molecular systematics of birds and mammals in China and southern Africa as well as New Guinea and the Western Pacific. Recently living on the west coast after working at Smithsonian for nearly seven years, Jack is enjoying sailing and learning about the birds of the eastern Pacific Rim. An avid sailor, Jack has acted as onboard naturalist at the Farallon Islands with the non-profit "Call of the Sea." Dr. Dumbacher has numerous scientific publications and has recently returned from an expedition to study birds and other vertebrates in remote and understudied Pacific islands.
Adapted from SeaStewards website, © 2010 SeaStewards.org. All Rights Reserved.

Mark Eby has been working as a filmmaker for over ten years, collaborating with artists, musicians and performance communities in Los Angeles, the Asia/Pacific region, and Africa. He is a Fulbright Scholar, has received a NIPAD grant, and was the cinematographer on the award-winning national PBS documentary, American Aloha: Hula Beyond Hawaii (2003).  He founded Azbri Productions and has directed and produced Songs for the City of Angels (2005), The House of Ancestral Stories (2006), Tomorrow’s Doctors (2007), The Shield is My Brother (2009), The Man Who Cannot Die (2009), and Performing Trust (2009).  In 2008 he also produced LA Lens on Sacred Music, a series of short documentaries by nine different Los Angeles based directors about the World Festival of Sacred Music. Mark grew up alternating between the highlands of Papua New Guinea where his parents were missionaries and the hills of Northern Kentucky where his grandparents lived. The influence of Melanesian culture is reflected in his films that focus on artist portraits, community rituals, intercultural collaboration, multiple identities, and issues of cultural continuity and change. He is always striving for ways to make connections with artists and communities that are outside of the global spotlight.

Christina Hellmich joined the staff at the de Young Museum in 2005, and serves as the Curator of the Jolika collection of New Guinea Art. She coordinates and executes exhibitions, publications and public programs related to the collection and administers the Jolika Fellows program bringing New Guinea artists, scholars and museum professionals to the de Young. In April 2007, Hellmich organized the symposium, "New Guinea Art Since 1875." Her recent articles featuring the Jolika collection include "The Jolika Collection of New Guinea Art" for Tribal magazine and "Plaited, Coiled, Twined & Looped: New Guinea Fibre Masterworks" for Hali magazine. Ms. Hellmich also curates the permanent Oceanic galleries and special temporary exhibitions relating to the Oceanic collection at the de Young. She co-produced and contributed to a 2009 publication, Arts of Africa, Oceania and the Americas and the Jolika Collection of New Guinea Art: A Decade of Collecting, including highlights of recent Oceanic art acquisitions of the Fine Arts Museums.

Eric Imperiale is the current Nursery Specialist responsible for the Highlands Tropics collection at the Conservatory of Flowers. A longtime Orchid Society member, Eric received best of orchid for juniors award when he was 13 years old. Today, he is charged with acquiring, cultivating, exhibiting, and maintaining a world-class collection of cool blooming orchids - those found in higher elevation, cooler temperature, cloud forests. Sometime after Imperiale's 13th birthday, the junior award fell off the Orchid Society radar. In 2010, Imperiale sponsored the newly named Imperiale Youth Prize in recognition of a young person's enthusiasm and interest in orchids. Imperiale fondly recalls winning the coveted prize and the inspiration he received from that award that motivated him to follow his passion. He hopes to encourage research, conservation, and a love of plants for future generations.
Adapted from Jane Scurich, “Master Gardner: ‘Carnival’ of exotic colors and fragrances at orchid exposition,” Marin Independent Journal, Feb. 19, 2010.

Cathy Kata was born in 1966 in Pakin Village in the Nebliyer region of Western Highlands Province, Papua New Guinea. Her tribal group is Kapia Ulgu; her language, Timbuka. She later moved to Goroka where she developed her skill at bilum-making, a traditional hand-weaving technique used to make bilum (string bags). In 2003, Cathy founded CK Bilum Wear in response to an overwhelming interest in contemporary fashion items and outfits, which she constructed for men and women using this traditional technique. Today she and her colleagues, women she teaches in her community, are well known for their “bilumwear” within New Guinea and abroad. They are taking the traditional bilum form in new directions with a wide range of bilum styles, accessories, and derivations, using new and traditional materials. Cathy has won awards and acclaim for her work in a numbuer of recent competitions. In 2007, she was a Jolika Fellow at the de Young Museum, where she conducted workshops with the local community and exhibited her work at the annual holiday sale, “Artwear in the Galleries.” In 2009, Cathy exhibited in a two-part international exhibition of contemporary Papua New Guinea art, “Hailans to Ailans,” with stops at the Rebecca Hossack Gallery in London and the Alcheringa Gallery in Victoria, Canada.
Adapted from Hailans to Ailans website, © 2009 Hailans to Ailans.

Purago Marabe is a self-taught artist and poet from the Okapa district of the Eastern Highlands Province, Papua New Guinea.  As an avid tree planter, Purago is a promoter of sustainable development and a collector of seeds, stories, and songs.  His current art project is re-foresting his residential land with a jungle of trees. In 1994, his poetry was published in an anthology of young PNG writers.  This collection is currently being used as curriculum material throughout PNG. In 2007, selections of Purago’s artwork were on exhibit in Papuwah: The Art of Nuigini, a mixed PNG Exhibition at the Cairns Regional Gallery, Cairns Queensland, Australia.  In 2006 he participated in the First International Conference of Art in Society, held in conjunction with the Edinbugh Festival, Scotland, where an exhibition of his artwork was on display. And in 2009, Purago was a Jolika Fellow at the de Young Museum, where he offered paintings and poems to the public during a month-long artist residency alongside Martin Morububuna. He joined Michael Mel in his performance at their closing reception. Purago’s community arts involvement includes developing adult literacy programs with the YWCA, Goroka during the 1980s and participating as a poet at the Womens’ Writer’s Workshop at the University of PNG in 1990. Additionally, Marabe has taught art classes at the Port Moresby Art Centre to members of the International Diplomatic Corp, and in 2000 he presented a guest lecture at the James Cook University in Cairns, Australia on social change in PNG.
Adapted from Purago Marabe’s self-titled website, © Purago Marabe 2006.

Michael Mel was born in 1959 in Wila Village, near Mount Hagen in PNG’s Western Highlands Province. He is a performance artist, teacher, and writer, and is currently an Associate Professor and Pro Vice Chancellor at the University of Goroka. Michael uses performance to explore issues of cultural identity and dispossession. He has brought global attention to these issues, and to the complexities of Papua New Guinean culture. He has also incorporated elements of local culture into the Highlands school curriculum, promoting the concept of education through art. For his contributions to the cultural development of Papua New Guinea, Michael received the Prince Claus Award in 2006. In April 2007, Michael performed at the de Young Museum’s Symposium, “New Guinea Art Since 1875,” and again in 2009 at the closing reception for Jolika Fellows Purago Marabe and Martin Morububuna. In 2009, Michael also co-curated “Hailans to Ailans,” an international exhibition of contemporary art from Papua New Guinea.
Adapted from Hailans to Ailans website, © 2009 Hailans to Ailans.

Martin Morububuna is one of Papua New Guinea’s most accomplished graphic artists, renowned as a painter, printmake, and muralist. Martin was born in 1957 in Kwebwaga Village in the Trobriand Islands. After high school, he joined the Creative Arts Centre, then attended Papua New Guinea’s National Arts School and began participating in group exhibitions. His first solo show followed there in 1977. Since then, he’s had frequent exhibitions in PNG and Australia, and has worked on major public and private commissions for clients worldwide. Screenprints, woodcuts, and lithographs composed most of Martin’s early work. Later he concentrated on painting, experimenting to see how Western art styles, including impressionism and cubism, could be used to interpret Papua New Guinean themes. His work is in the collection of the National Gallery of Australia. In 2009, Martin was a Jolika Fellow at the de Young Museum, dedicating his one-month-long residency with Purago Marabe to the execution of a large-scale mural depicting the natural and cultural landscape of Papua New Guinea.  In 2009, Martin also exhibited paintings in “Hailans to Ailans,” the two-part international exhibition of contemporary Papua New Guinea art that traveled from London to Victoria.
Adapted from Hailans to Ailans website, © 2009 Hailans to Ailans.

Additional Info on Podcast Music

  • Charles Duvelle is a composer, pianist and musicologist. He has produced a multi-volume set of field recordings of traditional music under the label Prophet. More information available at the New York Times.
  • Shannon Michael Terry is a musician, artist, and producer based in Los Angeles. He founded the Open Door Orchestra (ODO) as a revolving ensemble of players from around the world, with a mixture of primal and contemporary sounds. More information available at Primal Future Now.


  • Exploring the Highlands of New Guinea: Art, Science, and Conservation is made possible by Marcia & John Friede and the Christensen Fund. Special thanks to the Embassy of Papua New Guinea to the Americas, Washington, D.C. and the Embassy of the United States Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea.
  • Produced in association with Azbri Productions
    Biography for Mark Eby