Created: 22 October 2018
A collaboration between two lecturers, Professor Anne E. Gursney Allen from Indiana University Southeast and Matatumua Maluiao Leua Latai, a Senior Lecturer at the Faculty of Education (NUS) comes to life, as ‘Paper Connections,’ an international juried art exhibition which opened at Indiana Univesity Southeast, at the Ronald Barr Art Gallery, in the United States. The first leg of the exhibition was hosted earlier this year at the Niule’a Exhibition Space at the Centre for Samoan Studies, at the National University of Samoa. The exhibition consists of paper works created by faculty members and students of both Universities.
The interchange was the work of both lecturers over the span of six years advocating for the arts and emphasizing the importance of international communication, cultural exhange and the promotion of arts education as a viable pathway for young people. The exhibition justified what the arts can teach which is encouraging one’s capacities for creative thinking and imagination, problem solving, creative judgement and a whole lot more. Many people do not associate the arts with ‘thinking’. We have a tendency to be only aware of the art ‘product’ - the song, the picture, the play but less aware of the process which creates the product (Oddleifson and Solomon, 1995). According to Eric Oddleifson, ‘the arts should be the basis of education, because the deepest and most lasting experiences is through participation.
Indiana art community at the opening and faculty members of the Indiana Fine Arts Department enjoying the exhibition, October 2, 2018. Photographs courtsey of Anne Ellen, 2018
Despite the challenges and setbacks, the achievement of featuring students and faculty work by both institutions gives motivation for not only our young people but to challenge them, that it can be achieveable with encouraging inspiring moments such as this. The exhibition was opened offically by Chancellor Wallace of Indiana University Southeast and was well attended by students, faculty members and the art community of Indiana. The exhibit will be up untill the end of October and the artworks by the viusal art students of the National University of Samoa will be returned.
The opportunity for the exchange to occur was due to the determination and hardwork of both lecturers to provide their students with cultural experiences that are important to their development and to promote the arts in Samoa and the United States. There has been several visits from Indiana University Southeast to Samoa led by Professor Anne where her students immersed themselves in the fa’asamoa and engaged in cultural activities for a month in Savaii, as well as participating in printmaking workshops hosted by the Visual Art students at the National University of Samoa. The conversations have continued where both staff and students are currently working together on a new project called the ‘Art Agency Beautification Project,’ spearheaded by an independent non profit student organization which comprises students from the Faculty of Education and the Faculty of Arts (NUS). The project aims at beautifying the vicinities of the National University of Samoa.
Foundation students Paese Papalii and Edward Tauiliili showing the Indiana students how the popular Samoan ‘elei’ is done. Photo courtesy of Leua Latai, 2018