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The Children's Siapo Workshop of American Samoa

"The future belongs to young people with an education and the imagination to create.” --Barack Obama

At Fa’asamoa Arts, we believe that art is a vital part of any child’s education and development. This is especially true on our little island of American Samoa, where our indigenous, traditional arts are waiting to be passed down to the next generation.

With this in mind, we hosted our first Children’s Siapo Workshop in the summer of 2021, with the goal of teaching children the art of siapo, and the history and importance that siapo holds for this island and our culture.

So what is the Children’s Siapo Workshop? Keep reading to find out more!

What Do the Kids Learn About Siapo?

Over the course of 4 weeks, our 2021 cohort spent their mornings learning the different mamanu used in siapo, the proper technique for scraping, beating, and burnishing the u’a, and the use of the different colors of natural dyes available to siapo makers.

Our Children’s Siapo Workshop (available to students ages 8-13) focused on their art, while our Youth Research Program (available to students ages 14-17) also completed a research project that they presented for the public at the Samoan Arts and Research Conference.

Where is the Workshop Held in American Samoa?

The workshop, like much of our operations as a nonprofit, took place in our studio gallery in Leone, American Samoa. This space is on family land, and it is where we grow all of the materials we need to create completed works of siapo. The u’a (natural canvas), the paogo (the natural brushes), and the dyes are all grown, processed, and created here on our land.

Leone has long been a center of art in American Samoa, with the siapo makers of Leone being known specifically for the art of siapo mamanu, a kind of siapo that utilizes freehand skills when creating designs. It is important to us that our students learn in this environment.

Does it Cost a Lot of Money?

This past year, thanks to a generous grant from the Amerika Samoa Humanities Council, we were able to offer our Children’s Siapo Workshop and the Youth Research Program to all of our students for free.

It is our goal, through grants and donations, to keep our yearly, in-studio children’s programming at a low cost so that money is not a barrier between a gifted child and their access to art education.

What Did The Students Think?

“The knowledge of siapo is priceless, and I will carry it with me forever.”

Our students LOVED our program, to say the least. At their end of program evaluations, every student expressed an interest in returning to Fa’asamoa Arts in 2021--and we can’t wait to see them!

Can I Do the Workshop Next Year?

While we are still in the planning stages of next year’s events, know that doing another youth program is a priority!

Want to stay updated on future events and programs like the Children’s Siapo Workshop and the Youth Research Program in American Samoa? Follow us on Instagram @faasamoaarts to get the most up to date information about what is happening with our organization!

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