Emerging artist looks to refine art

Emerging local artist Winona Folau is looking to refine her art this year as she continues to study at home and is looking ahead to where her talent takes her. 

Ms Folau shared her artistic journey with Pacific Media Network and spoke of what she has experienced as an emerging artist.

She is a bachelor of fine arts student at Massey University and was born in Samoa, hailing from the villages of Puipaa, Vaiusu and Vaivase Uta before moving to New Zealand in 2007. 

In an interview with Pacific Media Network, she said art was a way and she understood that it was her way of adapting and looking at the world. 

When she was younger, her father worked on one of her school projects in primary school, which opened her eyes to a broader context of art and how difficult it was for her father to pursue art as a field back in Samoa. 

"It was then that I understood that it was just my way of adapting and looking at the world,” she said. “Art became a way for me to express who I am and also the first time I saw my dad draw was for a school project and in primary school, we had homework where we had to draw and replicate an animal that we really like.

"That’s when I found out that he can actually draw and back in the islands he didn’t have the chance to do that back in the islands because it’s really hard to actually go to school and so it was work straight after school."

Ms Folau revealed that when she finally started drawing, school made more sense to her as she was having difficulties understanding what school was all about. 

"I think my challenge was being able to use art, the gift that was gifted to me to tell my story and to be able to push it and to use something that people usually don’t count on to be used to tell their stories," she said.

Admitting that going through university was strongly motivated by her family, who wanted to push the younger generation to have the experience that they never got to have. 

"It has actually been my whole family’s dreams to push us the younger generation to have the experience of going to university that they didn’t have, and not to be able to work straight after and be stuck there and have no knowledge of what’s outside of just earning money and the hardship of life.”

Some families would encourage their children to take up a career in accounting or law, however, Ms Folau said that her family were supportive of her studies and they pushed her towards that direction.

"I guess they had more of an open mind towards art being a tool that enabled me to actually adapt to any given situation, rather than something that’s there," she said.

Recalling her college days when she was pushed by her art teacher to focus on her skill, Ms Folau said she had seen at the time the difference her art teacher created in her life. 

"Like slowly I could see it. I was actually this quiet girl that just drew, I didn’t know the context of art, there were different mediums and different ways that you can actually use it, I just knew that drawing was one of them," she added. 

When asked what her favourite medium was, she said there's not a favourite, she sees siapo (tapa cloth) as a rich indigenous material that should be recognised within many disciplined areas.

"My main goal was to push the boundaries of what it could withhold, that there are many complex layers that I could add to it, just as our ancestors used to tell their stories in a way that they couldn’t do just as others could do their own talents," she said. 

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