Local Artists Unveil Tank Farm Murals for Community
The inclement weather drenching Tutuila over the weekend cleared up long enough for the participants to stay dry as the unveiling ceremony of the Lalolagi o le Sami (World of the Sea) Tank Farm Mural Project took place on the morning of Saturday, February 23rd. The project, led by American Samoa Community College (ASCC) artist Regina Meredith-Fitiao in collaboration with the American Samoa Petroleum Cooperative, Inc. (ASPC) , culminated in the installation of new public artworks by ten local artists on the wall of the petroleum processing facility (a/k/a “Tank Farm”) in Gataivai.
In keeping with the World of the Sea theme, each of the artworks displays an ocean motif, with imagery ranging from Samoan legends to everyday life. “As Pacific islanders, we cannot disconnect ourselves from the ocean,” explained Meredith-Fitiao. “We know our ancestors were avid seafaring people who travelled far and wide on the Ocean. It provides for us not only nutrition, but also healing and leisure. We are also aware of its power and might, and so with these concepts in mind, it seemed like a great theme to develop. Many of the murals include some form of human, which resonates how we are one with the sea.”
Meredith-Fitiao recalled that it was about a year of developing the concept before presenting the final draft to ASPC and after a period of waiting, the Board approved the proposal. As the project got underway, Taulapapa Will Sword, John Goeke and Faitoto'aetasiolefaleomavaega Nick King were instrumental in working out the necessary logistics regarding the wall and the scheduling of work for the project. According to Meredith-Fitiao, one of the most influential voices for approving the Tank Farm Mural Project was the late Utu Abe Malae. “He was a genuine advocate for the Arts and was a Board member of the ASPC,” she recalled. “When he first saw my proposal, he was super positive and offered constructive advice.”
A general call to local artists who might be interested in participating was put out by word of mouth and emails. Many of those who responded turned out to be former ASCC students. Of the ten muralists, William P. Faga, Jr., Niuafolau Pua, Vaimili Tyrell, Duffy Hudson, Raymond Keleti, and Puataunofo Tofaeono are all ASCC alumni who earned Associate in Arts degrees with an emphasis in Art, with Tofaeono having graduated just this past December. Other artists on the diverse team of included Faitoto'aetasiolefaleomavaega Nick King, also a graduate in Liberal Arts from ASCC; Su’a Wilson Fitiao (Tufuga ta Tatau); Sekio Fuapopo, the eldest muralist with art credentials from the San Francisco Art Institute; and Meredith-Fitiao herself, who holds a Master of Fine Arts in Painting from San Diego State University. All of the muralists work full time as educators, artists, and professionals in a specific fields.
To add a visual flow to the Tank Farm wall, relief sculptures were created, with Su’a Wilson Fitiao directing the process assisted by Salome Fonoti, Taui Fitiao, Mark Iulio, and Lorigene Ianu, who is also an ASCC 2018 Art major graduate. Together, the entire team maintained their commitment to the work and collaboratively set the date for the unveiling. An installation crew led by Fili Fou and Foua Satele made a special tracking system to hold the visual pieces in place, and Meredith-Fitiao emphasized the importance of their contribution in the layout of the artworks.
Meredith -Fitiao conveyed the hope that the artists involved in the project will provide role models for American Samoa’s young people. “If we see any aspiring creativity in our young ones, we need to nurture them and encourage them to pursue the education to develop their talent,” she said, “be it in music, drama, dance, or visual art. With that in mind, on behalf of all the artists involved, we dedicate this exhibit to our young people, as well as to our community, our Pacific island neighbors, and visitors to our shores.”
To fully appreciate the artwork that comprises
Lalolagi o le Sami: World of the Sea, plan a walk down the
sidewalks of Gataivai. For more information on Fine Arts
Department courses at ASCC, visit the College’s website at