The Oceania Centre for Arts and Culture at the University of the South Pacific in Suva, Fiji, is a space where Oceanic identity is expressed through painting, sculpture, music, and dance. For a decade, artists have been expressing a burgeoning Oceanic identity infused with traditions and histories expressed in the contemporary period through art. The founder and director, Epeli Hau'ofa, has nurtured a space for Oceanic arts that encourages a participative process of learning that speaks to the potential of each individual while simultaneously forming a dedicated community of artists learning from one another. What is unique about the Oceania Centre is the process of creation in which artists are forming and asserting their identity. This identity is respectful of and concerned with traditions, histories, current conditions (cultural, social, and political), and overall experience of Oceania. The process of participative creative exchange at the Oceania Centre is integrated throughout its painting, sculpture, dance, and music programs to produce expressions that move like waves with the fortitude and force of the ocean. As with any process, the creativity at the center is dynamic and not limited to the contemporary or traditional. The art evolves. It invites the ancestors into conversations in the present to dream of the future. Beginning with a brief history and introduction to Hau'ofa's vision, this article focuses on the Red Wave Collective, the group of painters and sculptors practicing at the Oceania Centre. These artists arrive at the Oceania Centre from different walks of life. Their qualification to join: experience of life as an Oceanian. Excerpts from interviews with some of the Red Wave painters and sculptors offer a glimpse into the value of participative learning space and the dynamic process of creativity at the Oceania Centre.
The Contemporary Pacific – University of Hawai'I Press
Published: Feb 11, 2009