Pacific Asia Museum

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Past Exhibition

Young Perspectives on
Pacific Island Art

May 1 through August 24, 2008

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Pacifika (5:51)
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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).

Necklace (lei niho palaoa), Hawaii, 19th century, Photo by Julian Bermudez

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.

Julian Bermudez, Exhibition Coordinator

Related Events

  • Saturday, May 10, 1pm–4pm
    Free Family Festival: The Arts of the Pacific Islands
    Family Festivals are always a lot of fun, and this will be no exception! Come celebrate Pacific cultures and the opening of the innovative new exhibition Pacifika:Young Perspectives on Pacific Island Art. Enjoy a dance “tour” of Samoa, Fiji, Hawaii, New Zealand and Tahiti, hands-on crafts, demonstrations, and more.

    This Free Family Festival is supported in part by a generous grant from the Los Angeles County Arts Commission, The James Irvine Foundation, Pasadena Arts and Culture Commission, the City of Pasadena Cultural Affairs Division and Target.