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ASCC Fine Arts Department to host Tatau Forum

The Fine Arts Department at the American Samoa Community College (ASCC) invites the public to join them for its Tatau Forum, which will take place on Thursday, October 27th, from 8:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. in the College’s Lecture Hall. A combination of academics and community practitioners will discuss and demonstrate the many aspects of Samoa’s indigenous art form of the tatau (tattooing). This free event has been organized in collaboration with the 12th annual Tisa’s Tattoo Festival, which begins that weekend.

The Tatau Forum includes different viewpoints from various scholars, those who wear the laei and from a Tufuga ta tatau himself. Regina Meredith Fitiao, Visual Arts professor of the Fine Arts Department said that, “an array of people will share what they know and have experienced regarding the sacred art form.  For example, the topic I will speak about comes from the research conducted at the National Museum of Natural History Smithsonian Museum regarding the correlation of Samoan motifs between siapo and tatau based on the tapa Collection housed at NMNH that date as early as 1838.”

With Professor Meredith-Fitiao and Fine Arts Chairman Mr. Kuki Tuiasosopo representing their department, guests will include keynote speaker Dr. Unasa Leulu Felise Va’a of the National University of Samoa; Teleai Christian Ausage of the ASCC Samoan Studies Institute; Tofoitaufa Sandra King Young, local Director of Medicaid; Su’a Tupuola Fitiao Uilisone;  filmmaker Fepulea’i Dr. Micah Van der Ryn; and Tattoo Festival founder Tisa Faamuli; and the ASCC Student Association for Faasamoa (SAFF).

Fine Arts chairman Tuiasosopo explained that the Tattoo Forum has been conceived with a central focus on student learning. “Students, especially those majoring in Samoan Studies, will ​be exposed to academic and scholarly research on Samoan Traditional Tatau,” he said. “Besides the obvious and the usual that we know about it, this forum allows scholars and practitioners to share other issues pertaining to Tatau. We hope this event will inspire students to also enroll in our Indigenous Art Course being offered this coming spring, in which they have the opportunity to become even more familiar with our Samoan material culture via hands on work with siapo, woodcarving and weaving.”

With promoting an awareness of Samoa and the Pacific a cornerstone of the ASCC Mission, the Tattoo Forum will also give students an insight into the workings of a formal academic conference. “A professional forum such as this allows our students to observe public speaking in an academic setting,” said Meredith-Fitiao. “Students who are enrolled in Speech Communication classes will be able to see firsthand the kind of presentation that is expected of them at the end of the semester. At the same time, the Forum should stimulate queries about the art form, its ancestry, our heritage, our connection to the bigger world, and how Samoan tatau has become revered as a high art.”

Students from the ASCC Alpha Epsilon Mu chapter of the Phi Theta Kappa honor society have volunteered to assist with ushering and managing the floor at the forum.  Also, members of the SAFF will perform at the Forum during lunch hour. 

For more information on this event, contact the Fine Arts Department at 699-9155, ext. 329. The ASCC Fine Arts Department and Tisa’s Tattoo Festival wish to thank the American Samoa Humanities Council for their support of the Forum.