Coronavirus pandemic themed art exhibition at university

Visual arts student of the National University of Samoa (N.U.S.) hosted an exhibition at the Niulea Exhibition Space under the theme "Coping with COVID-19" on Thursday.

Vice-Chancellor, Professor Aiono Alec Ekeroma, opened the exhibition with a welcoming speech addressing the theme and how the students were able to convey the theme.

"This is my first art exhibition in Samoa to open but I’ve been to other art exhibitions in other parts of the world and I’ve had the opportunity to sneak around the back and have a look at the paintings on the wall and I must say that I am very impressed," he said 

Professor Ekeroma spoke that the theme really came through with most of the paintings on the wall and saluted the senior visual art lecturer, Leualeua Latai for a job well done. He also thanked the students for all their hard work.

"You have received fantastic supervision from your art teacher. With what I saw, I will certainly purchase one of these to start my art collection in Samoa, because that’ how impressed I am with the work displayed," he added

Loata Julie Tupu, one of the visual arts students explained her collection of paintings and revealed that it was her first time painting.

"This was my first time painting; I took Visual art as my minor. The paintings that I’ve done are inspired by the environment," she said

"I wanted to show through my painting my love for the environment and our lives in the environment that we live in. I love to paint flowers, birds and butterflies and it took me one week to paint all of my pieces."

Ierenimo Pio, a second-year Bachelor of commerce student also taking visual arts, was excited to have his collection on display. 

"So for my paintings, I didn’t use acrylic paint, but I used the spray. So when I painted my pieces, I thought about when we were on lockdown. It felt like we were in darkness, here in Samoa and around the world, hence the colours night theme colours of my pieces," Ierenimo said

He was determined to paint accordingly to the theme of the exhibition and wanted to express the before and after effects of COVID-19 on a canvas.

"One of my biggest paintings here were the effects of COVID-19. I thought about the positive and negative effects that came with it," he added

"For instance, before COVID-19 our environment was degraded because of human activities such as deforestation and pollution. And then when COVID-19 struck, restrictions were in place and people were in isolation that was when the environment was gradually rebuilding."

Another proud student who was eager to have her work displayed was Paese Papalii. Her collection was about the movement and mixture of colours and the feelings that come with it.

"That movement and mixture of colours, I interpret it in a way that feeling and thoughts move through your whole body. If I feel something or if I have something on my mind I try to express it through my painting," she added

Senior Visual Arts lecturer, Leualeua Latai said that she is very please with the work and commitment her students have put into this art exhibition.

"It’s a lot of work and some of them don’t realize the amount of work that goes into putting everything together, and that’s what I do is train them," she said

"I think they’ve done a wonderful job. It’s a lot of work for them but it all comes down to discipline because they get sidetracked a lot and so I am constantly guiding them. 

"Its hard work, we were here the last two nights finishing pieces and them seeking my advice."

Ms Latai also acknowledged one of the local painters, Mr Pesamino who has been painting since his teen years in Samoa College and got a chance to further his education in New Zealand where he took a few art courses.

Mr Stowers said he's very impressed with the work shown and it took him back to his student years when he first started out as a painter. He also advised the students about three key elements that a successful painter or artist should have.

"To be an artist you have to have a good attitude, a passion for painting and having the endurance to keep painting no matter what and keep going, finish what you started," Pesamino said 

Amongst the crowd that was at the exhibition was Associate Professor Tuiloma Susana Taua'a who spoke fondly of the art exhibition and how she perceived it.

"An art exhibition serves the purpose of healing and for me personally, I feel really calm just by walking around and I [] gets to me somehow. The atmosphere is quite overwhelming, in a positive sense," she said 

According to Professor Ekeroma, there's a huge depth of talents here at the university and is expressed clearly through the variety of paintings displayed.

"The theme of the art exhibition really does come through from the paintings. The fear, anxiety and uncertainty about what was happening," he added

"There’s also some declaration of hope as well. I’m really hoping that some of these students will make it to the world stage."

He also said that he was hoping there would be a bit of Samoan context in some of the paintings but overall the students did really well. 

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