Samoa Observer

Exhibition held to celebrate work of Ernestor Coter

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Exhibition held to celebrate work of Ernestor Coter

By Cedric Ah colt 27 May 2023, 3:00PM

An art exhibition to celebrate the work of artist Ernestor Coter, who is considered the father of contemporary art in Samoa, was held at the National University of Samoa recently.

Mr. Coter is also the founder of the Leulumoega C.C.C.S School of Fine Arts, with his first art students also displaying their artwork together with that of their mentor at the university's Fale-Samoa from Wednesday to Friday this week.

N.U.S. lecturers in fine arts, Leua Latai and Lealofi Siaopo Toleafoa used the exhibition to talk about art and the artistic ideas of their fellow classmates as well as their teacher. According to Mrs. Latai, she and her classmates have again gathered their artwork for the whole of Samoa to see. 

"A year and a half ago, I contacted all my mates back in the school to prepare their historic artworks to display and to commemorate their teacher," she said in an interview. "Mr. Coter is still alive and it was so nice seeing him again through Zoom and Livestream. 

"I told Mr. Coter of our exhibition and then he decided to send over his old and first artworks in the 70s, 80s, and 90s for every student with the dream of art to see."

Mrs. Latai and her classmate Ms. Toleafoa showed the media their art collection in the Fale-Samoa and dedicated the exhibition to Mr. Coter.

Mrs. Latai's painting focuses on the color white, which she said was an idea that was introduced to her by Mr. Coter and can be expressed through visual arts, music, fashion, architecture, and literature. One of her prized paintings, which she titled "The Color of White or Le Lanu Pa'epa'e", was described as very rare. 

"This is a series of canvases that I have painted entirely white. My attempt is to capture the reflective changes in light and the chance effects of shadows in the surrounding space," the artist said. "These paintings are part of my studies for my current Ph.D. rethinking their meaning and symbolism in the Samoan Culture. When did we first wear white clothes and hats?"

As for Ms. Toleafoa, she said her artwork had put together all the aspects of Samoan culture in her pieces of art, and her paintings are her way of expressing her Samoan culture. 

She said Samoan culture might disappear during the time of the next generation, but her artwork will help remind them of Samoans of our culture. 

Mr. Coter founded the School of Fine Arts when the Congregational Christian Church Samoa approached him to teach. He started his work by teaching at Leulumoega Fou College with his wife before setting up the art school. Mr. and Mrs. Coter first arrived in Samoa in 1972, and in 1973, Mrs. Latai met the couple when she was only 12 years old. In 1973 she aspired to learn from Mr. Coter and decided to go to the art school until she and Ms. Toleafoa became teachers there. Mr. Coter left Samoa in 2003.

By Cedric Ah colt 27 May 2023, 3:00PM
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