Talalelagi, Samoa (Story of the Skies, Samoa)
This installation was inspired by a trip I made with my grandfather, the late Rev. Suitonu Galea’i, to visit family in both Samoa and American Samoa. He travelled there several times a year on church business, eventually ending up at his brother’s place, the late Rev. Ofisa Galea’i on Tutuila. This particular time he invited me to join him. Considering how many grandchildren he had, it felt like an honor to be chosen. He used to have an old manual Smith Corona typewriter in his office and refused to get a modern electric model. I remember he would write letters to his brother on it. When we got to "Uncle Ofisa’s" house, it was fun to discover that he too had the same typewriter. When I was making this installation, I wondered what thoughts were exchanged between these brothers on those old twin typewriters. My grandfather became seriously ill during this trip and was hospitalized while we were on Upolu. He died later that year in California. I think of this installation as a memory space and dedicate it to him. It has to do with family initiation; walking through our lands; learning where the spirits are; meeting a trickster; and textures in the natural environment. Some of the pieces included here are discussed in detail under the "Paintings" or "Sculptures" sections of this website.
Red House/The Daughters of Salamasina
A "red House" is an ancient Samoan village structure in which the community’s histories and recent accomplishments were recited to the people. This was also the place where you could go alone and visit with the ancestors. The presence of women in Samoan history inspired this work. I tried to give the impression of many generations of women gathering in one location, one house, at the same time. The space is divided into 2 sections: a smaller entrance space in which all of the art is black media on red surfaces; and a larger space that suggests both landscape and architecture in full color on red. The sculptures represent the first ancestors and then each wall mural represents 3 distinct periods: the 16th century and the reign of Queen Salamasina, the first Samoan ruler to carry all 3 titles at the same time; the missionary influence of the 19th century; and finally, contemporary times. Recordings of songs and interviews with women of the First Samoan Congregational Christian Church of San Diego play in looped succession.