The first in a series of experimental, community-driven exhibits; Pacifika: Young Perspectives on Pacific Island Art explores the arts, cultures, and traditions of the people of the Pacific Islands now living in Southern California. Issues regarding migration, ceremonial tattooing, costumes and adornments will be explored through interpretive materials created by students of Carson High School’s Pacific Islanders Club and UCLA’s Pacific Islands Student Association (PISA).
Contemporary objects such as costumes – created and worn by students during dance performances and competitions – will be displayed alongside traditional examples from Pacific Asia Museum’s collection. For example, a 19th century Hawaiian necklace (lei niho palaoa), exquisitely created by a master craftsman (kahuna), will be juxtaposed with a 21st century necklace made from unconventional materials, such as plastic and paper.
Other objects from the museum’s collection include Samoan textiles made from bark cloth (tapa); a coconut-shell purse from Tonga; Fijian cowry-shell necklaces; and models of outrigger canoes which have a fascinating history as the main means of transport for all the Pacifika (Polynesian) peoples.
Additionally, the exhibit will include photographs and oral histories to provide context about what it means to be a Pacifika youth living in Los Angeles. Since first contact with the outside world in the late 18th century, the Pacifika peoples have shown great resilience and vitality in regards to combining traditional beliefs with new ideas.
This exhibit is curated by students from Carson High School’s Pacific Islanders Club and UCLA’s PISA, under the supervision of Christina Hellmich, Curator of the Jolika Collection of New Guinea Art and Curator of Oceanic Art at the de Young Museum of San Francisco.
This exhibition is sponsored by the James Irvine Foundation and the Los Angeles County Arts Commission.