Digging into anything and everything that makes the CNMI tick beyond politics...

Friday, May 4, 2012

Art from the heart

BROWSING through the various artworks of the items inside the stall of Flower Pot Salas at the recently held Flame Tree Arts Festival, you may think that she is just another one of the artists trying to make some money by selling her products. You are wrong. The intricate craftsmanship that goes into each tiny earring, bracelet, flowers and all other pieces are collector’s items and all priced very affordably.
Salas said that she makes art from the heart, which means every piece of artwork carries a cultural and traditional importance of her origins and of the islands.
An attention grabber at Salas’ booth at the festival was a cream-colored woven mat that served as a covering for one part of the wall. In front of the mat was a maniquin garbed in original Polynesian costumes—the whole works complete with brighly colored feathers.
The mat is no ordinary mat. It is soft and pliant to the touch and Salas said that it was over 300 years old. She said the mat is a family heirloom that has been used in her family for weddings, funerals and other important events.
“It takes about a year to make traditional mats because they are not the commercial type. Much details go into the preparation of the materials until it is woven and finished.
Grass skirts hanging on the wall for sale are not just ordinary grass skirts. Salas said preparing grass skirts require time and effort, talent and skill to gather the barks of trees before they became grass skirts that local dancers use.
The individual flowers that Salas showcased in her booth comes from the barks of trees, or beads for the more modern art. Each one is meticulously prepared and designed by hand. Salas also designs mwarmwar in various designs and colors.
Salas said that each design of the fashion jewelry, costumes and beads tell a story about the origin of the item. An expert can easily tell if a wall decoration has its inspiration from American Samoa, from Micronesia or any Pacific Island.
“It’s not just art. It’s the preservation of culture and tradition in these islands that I want to pass on to the younger generation because that matters,” Salas said.
Salas’ work is showcased during the annual Flame Tree Arts Festival, and at various art exhibits hosted by the Commonwealth Council for Arts and Culture each year.
She is willing to teach anyone how to make artwork infused with traditional and cultural origins anytime. For classes or organizations or any group who wants to can contact here through the Commonwealth Council for Arts and Culture at 322-9982/83.