Emerging artist Elisabeth Kumaran is a New Zealand-born, Samoan/Chinese visual artist based in South Auckland. She hails from the villages of Vailele, Ulutogia, and Vailoa-Palauli.
The Samoan language, Samoan traditions, and the artists heritage, are core components expressed through her work. Kumaran’s practice spans mediums such as drawing, illustration, hand-drawn stop motion video animation and hand cut paper illustrations.
Explanation on work exhibiting at The Ōyster, Ōtara
Kumarans’ exhibition at The Ōyster in April was titled ‘Watch me #WIP’ (Work In Progress). #WIP is a hashtag used by many creatives across social to keep viewers abreast of their creative progress, it helps to build a sense of excitement around their work and offers a behind the scenes glimpse into the artists’ journey.
Kumarans’ earliest memories are of growing up in Ōtara and discovering a love for drawing. Watch me #WIP was an installation of her studio, a small, private space, filled with music, pot plants, inspirational objects and drawings.
Q&A with Elisabeth Kumaran
Who is one of your biggest influences?
My late parents are my number one influences. They always supported and encouraged me to pursue my creativity. A lot of my work incorporates the Samoan culture and my upbringing and I owe this to how we were brought up at home.
What do you love most about being an artist?
Being able to express ideas visually, and continuing to explore various mediums and processes. I love that my art can teach others about the fa’asamoa (Samoan culture).
What recent exhibition most excited you and why?
Moana Artists at Scott Lawrie Gallery, 2022. It was an honour to show alongside some talented Pacific artists. It was exciting to invite family and friends along and they were inspired and amazed at the variety and calibre of Pacific artists in the show.
How do you think your heritage informs your art practice?
My Samoan heritage and upbringing are the foundations of my art practice. I like to incorporate the Samoan language and culture in my art and stop-motion animations. It helps me to cherish and nurture my fa’asamoa.
What is the main message you want to convey through your work in general?
A majority of my art practice explores themes around the fa’asamoa using different materials such as: stop motion video animations, hand paper-cut illustrations and installation work.