Students are on hand to assist at the ArtBox this week, helping to bring to life artist Vaimaila Urale’s artwork TYPEFACE. The mural, part of CoCA's Summer Performance Series, draws on traditional Pacific inspired digital designs and universal computer keyboard characters – and it is slowly covering the outside of the ArtBox on Madras Street at the City Campus Christchurch.
Folina Vili signed up as a volunteer after hearing about the project from Art & Design staff. It’s the week before she launches into the second year of her Bachelor of Design in Applied Visual Arts, and she is feeling inspired by the project and the artist.
“I was really keen to be involved from an artistic point of view and in terms of getting experience working with a working artist, but it was also the fact that Maila is Samoan and a female. I’m of Samoan descent too so it was extra cool, and the project was interesting to me as well.”
Bachelor of Design in Applied Visual Arts Folina Vili (L) with artist Vaimaila Urale.
So, how has the experience been so far? “Yeah great,” Folina says. “It was really good to go to her artist talk to hear about the project and to learn about her family background.”
“It’ s quite inspiring for me as it sounds like her course was similar to what I am doing; it was visual arts, not arts school, and also she is older and I am an older student too. I’m gathering that she studied later rather than straight out of school, so that has been cool for me personally.”
Folina was working in retail before deciding to pursue her lifelong love of art. She’s studied at university before but has found Ara has a great sense of community.
“The tutors are great, there’s a friendly, supportive atmosphere and that’s within Art & Design, but also there’s that general vibe of the campus being quite down to earth.”
She is looking forward to her second year; developing ideas for her work and improving her skills. “Learning techniques has been a big one, but also my tutors are practising artists, so it has been inspiring working with tutors who are passionate about what they do. It’s not just theoretical.”
“I’m so glad to be doing this.”
The artist Vaimaila Urale has a strong focus on collaboration and audience engagement. She is an established artist with exhibitions locally at Dowse Art Museum and Mangere Arts Centre, and internationally at SOMArts, San Francisco, Fei Contemporary Art Center, China and Blak Dot Gallery, Australia.
Folina is helping to create stencils for TYPEFACE. The design references traditional artforms such as Samoa tatau and tapa design, and universal computer keyboard characters / \ backslash and forward slash, as well as mathematical symbols < > less-than and greater-than.
Along with the public mural at Ara, the other part of the project uses the symbols more intimately – with actual tattoos.