My Name is Laken Rotoaira George Tewhiwhi Whitecliffe. This long full name explains a lot about where I am from, and who I am as an artist. I call Auckland, New Zealand home, but am currently living, studying and working in New York/ New Jersey, United States. I am a New Zealand Maori, Ko Te Arawa te Iwi, Ko Ngati Pikiao te Hapu. I also have ancestors on both sides of my family who migrated to New Zealand from throughout Europe. I embrace both my European and Maori heritage, and this multicultural background influences my art and life in more ways than one. My late father Greg Whitecliffe was an accomplished artist and educator until he passed away in 2001. He is my major inspiration for studying fine arts, especially with a household covered in artwork.The constant presence of his legacy in Whitecliffe College of Arts and Design is a key component to my growth as an artist. I was proud to be awarded the New Zealand emerging young artist of the year in 2012. I am currently completing my BFA degree at Montclair State University, New Jersey, just a short train ride from Manhattan, giving me the opportunity to interact with this vibrant art scene. While studying I was very lucky to be taken on by Max Gimblett as an intern, to work in his studio in Manhattan. Seeing a New Zealand artist flourishing in NYC was very inspiring and has given me the drive to push my own practice further. I have been given the opportunity with an OE Scholarship which allows me to stay on for a year post graduation to continue to develop my practice in New York/New Jersey.