Date of this Version
Published in Hidden Stories/Human Lives: Proceedings of the Textile Society of America 17th Biennial Symposium, October 15-17, 2020. https://digitalcommons.unl.edu/tsaconf/
Siapo is the Samoan word for painted bark cloth. It’s an art form that has been a part of many Pacific island nations for centuries. At one time it flourished in American Samoa, namely the village of Leone, where a group of women worked consistently with it. One of those women is my great aunt, the late Mary J. Pritchard, who taught me the rudiments of making siapo back in the early 1970s, while later it was her daughters who inspired me to become the siapo maker I am today.
“Making Siapo in Leone Today” is an elucidation of my work as a siapo maker. It is about the process but also about how I’ve strived to bridge the knowledge I’ve acquired in siapo as a whole, to reach my community and the wider diaspora, while managing my artistic identity as a siapo maker in today’s world. My presentation of thoughts and observations on siapo is divided into three areas:
• Journeying through the process of fabrication and motif utilization on traditional and contemporary levels
• Sharing siapo in the educational arena, with a focus on its ancestral format while inspiring interest in the next generation
• Interacting with the outside, engaging with the ongoing efforts of museums and institutions who manage bark cloth collections.
It is my hope that “Making Siapo in Leone Today” will provide a portal into my world as a maker of painted bark cloth and initiate a wholesome dialogue.