PIEAM Residency in-progress work



NHM's Anthropology Department and the Pacific Island Ethnic Art Museum (PIEAM) are excited to welcome Indigenous Chamorro fiber artist Maria “Lia” Terlaje Barcinas and Samoan graphic designer, muralist, and PIEAM artist-in-residence JP / Jason Pereira onto the museum campuses. Over the course of two months, Barcinas and Pereira will connect with Chumash and Tongva artists to learn more about the traditional weaving practices of Southern California Indigenous communities. They will also visit sites around the city and surrounding areas, hold a community offering ceremony at PIEAM, and spend time with the ancestral tapas and woven mats at NHM. These textiles—often collected by people outside of Pacific Island cultures—were removed from the giving, sharing, and normal use within the communities that produced them. Outside of the museum space, their production continues to grow and change, as do the cultures that make them. “Some of those mats are made for sitting on, in settings that bring people together,” says Pereira. “That is still a universal need . . . having a place and a space for everyone to come together.” With this in mind, the artists will collaborate on creating two new sister mats, one for NHM and one for PIEAM, which will be available for school visits and special storytelling programs.

Pereira and Barcinas are in residence at NHM from January 17 to February 12, 2023, and at PIEAM from February 13 to March 12, 2023. Return to this page for information on when to catch the artists at NHM.


Portrait of Maria "Lia" Barcinas

Maria "Lia" Barcinas

Based in Guam, Barcinas is a Chamorro weaver who collaborates with her two sisters to produce innovative woven sculptures as well as more traditional expressions of the craft. When she explains what tapa means to her, she turns to oral history. “Maui trapped the sun because his mother was trying to make tapa, and the sun was going through the skies too quickly for it to dry. So she's working all day long and her son is watching her get nowhere. So Maui is the one who weaves the rope and traps the sun and slows it down so that it has enough time during the day for the tapa to dry,” Barcinas says. According to the story, tapa is so important to the cultures of the Pacific Islands, it was worth capturing the sun and reordering the world to ensure the barkcloth’s production


Portrait of JP / Jason Pereira

JP / Jason Pereira

Born and raised in Southern California, Pereira is a visual artist of Samoan descent who works with murals and graphic design. As a child, he found inspiration in his father’s architectural work, and discovered his love for island culture during formative years he spent in American Samoa. He considers telling stories to be innate to his culture, as well as essential to making a human connection with others. For this reason, Pereira's pieces always have a story and often tie in the opportunities and challenges of the creation process. “What I'd like for visitors to learn from our work is that this art is not just something of the past. We're still creating things and we're still bringing about new works, but we tie our past to our present," says Pereira. "This is how we continue the journey . . . the generation of artists who come after us will use our new works as their own reference points.”

This project is supported in part by the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA). To find out more about how the NEA impacts individuals and communities, visit www.arts.gov