I am a Samoan-American multimedia artist. In Samoan culture, the Vā refers to a liminal space marked by ambiguity and transformation. It is a dynamic force, the space between two objects, the space between two points in time, and the space that gives meaning. The Samoan pantheon is replete with strong female goddesses whose divinity and strength allow them to shift through the Vā when it suits them. The study of the Vā has led me to question my ancestral past, Western contact and colonization, and the post-colonial present.
Both Samoan women and men wear tatau, or tattoo, whose motifs constitute one’s lineage, status, sexuality and individualism. I build tattoo-like stamps and stencils, employing them into abstract autobiographical drawings, paintings and weavings. Once complete, the works are cut are often cut, woven together and/or sculpted. The deconstruction and recreation of these works allow me to explore and understand how my culture has mutated through assimilation and my own interpretation. Drumming connects me to the Vā, where time and space is non-linear. I am seen and I will be heard.
Music and art making are the vehicles I use to explore how my identity permeates the binaries of western individualism and the moral mandate of my culture. My non-traditional painting practices allow me to create works that subvert, revitalize and reinvent my family’s history.
What I experience in the physical world directly influences how I react to my questions, emotions, life and awareness. My work is not about a final product, rather the process that helps me understand the human condition.