Armed with a paint brush and imagination, the visual arts students of the National University of Samoa have concluded all requirements with a senior thesis art exhibition.
The course which is under the faculty of education aimed to teach the next generation of art teachers the meaning of art so that they may one day pass the paint brush further through the ages.
Led by Senior Lecturer Matatumua Leua Latai, the course provided students and art teachers a safe haven to express freely and to learn the meaning of each stroke through a series of course requirements.
The course succeeded in being a platform to generate and inspire creativity for young designers, art educators and artists with fresh ideas and imageries of what the twenty first century could be like for Samoa.
“This is the final assessment for the visual arts secondary teachers,” Matatumua said during an interview with the Weekend Observer.
“In other words this is kind of like the last bit of the 300 level paper where students come up with a body of work where it’s conceptually and technically cohesive in addressing some of the concerns and issue and things that are important to them.
“This is all about expression too; but their thesis also has to be shown which means they have to research.
“Aside from doing just the art work itself, they are required to write an artistic note to be able to display the art in a professional way which includes pricing an art work, labeling, cataloging and presenting it.”
A total of six students will be graduating next year with the exhibition being an equivalent to a finals examination.
“I have six senior students who will be graduating next year so this is their final paper with me,” Matatumua said.
“They will all be teaching visual arts in secondary; in fact this is actually the second annual group show; we had another one two years ago with those students graduating early next year as well.”
According to Matatumua, they envision a new approach that combines enterprise which allows interaction between education and employment; between home and public life; between private and public space; between soulful interaction and daring innovation that address social issues and concerns that each young artist involved with the programme grapples with daily.
“The arts exhibition is sort of an academic approach to the visual arts,” she said.
“We basically train them here at the faculty of education to be more open and encourage more exposure to the arts and how they see the world and the importance of arts education to the young people in Samoa.
“The next generation is the future of Samoa so it’s important for my art teachers to have a sense of an understanding of what their field and discipline is like right now.
“Even though this is just an undergraduate course, it’s taught as a minor and a major now; so hopefully in the next couple of years these students will be able to continue on.”
The show itself was one of the tests Matatumua gave to the student.
“One thing we teach is for the students to be able to put together a proper show rather than just another flea market type approach,” she said.
“Some of them are painters, some are installation artists; it’s important that my students are taught what types of arts there are so that they may teach it one day.
“I have two visual arts teachers out in the field who are upgraders and are coming back to do their bachelors, one is Jerry Filo and Pauline Kohlhase; they both teach at Leififi College.
“I encourage my students to express as much as possible so that we may get rid of the stereotype that artists just sit around and paint pretty pictures; art is more than that.”
According to Matatumua, art is very important for the young generation, especially in the Samoan context.
“My research is actually in art therapy and use of art as therapy,” she said.
“I have done research on the tsunami kids which I also published a book on, and if you read their art statements, art is a form of anxiety release.
“If you read my students statements you will know how amazing it is with all those concerns and issues these kids face growing up.
“Art is a positive constructive way to direct all that energy with everything that’s going on; the fighting and all that.
“It’s important to encourage self expression and that’s basically what I’m trying to do here.
“The art teachers understand the importance of them expressing how they think and feel about things around the environment and I’m hoping they will do the same with their students. “Art rooms should be a safe place for students to just come in and release.”