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OMAI by muralist and designer Jason Pereira

 (Image courtesy of Visual Communications)

The name of this piece is OMAI; a call for “everyone to come”, in Samoan language.

OMAI is inspired by OMAI FA’ATASI – SAMOA MO SAMOA; a Visual Communications film produced in 1978. The documentary profiles the Samoan American youth development organization of L.A.’s South Bay.

I wanted this piece to celebrate the cultures coming together, and to connect to the work and the people in OMAI FA’ATASI. In fact some of my family – Uncle Simi, Auntie Vine, Uncle Tupe – were part of that organization and are in that film. I am grateful for work that they did to bring our Samoan community together back in the day.

Seeing what they had done, I wanted to create something that tells a similar story: one where Asian and Pacific Islander communities are coming together today. To prepare for this piece, I thought about my experiences with Asian and Pacific Islander communities through my life, and the different artistic influences.

I’m always drawn to the natural world. I thought about some of the patterns and animals that have been symbolized in our cultures. The pattern-work on the left derive from our Pacific Island cultures such as CHamoru, Fijian, Hawai’i and Samoa. Towards the right side you see patterns familiar in Asian cultures such as the lotus flower, motifs from India, Japan and the Philippines. I saw the left and right sides as ornate patterned door panels, sliding open to reveal a Phoenix descending through the clouds from a fiery sky, and a Whale emerging from the deep blue ocean through the waves to encircle the Visual Communications eye-through-the lens logo at the center. Both the Phoenix and the Whale hold deep meaning and fantastic stories for our respective Asian and Pacific Island peoples, so I felt it very apropos to symbolize them here together.

As the festival is hosted each year by Visual Communications, their logo here represents the “Omai,” the call for Everyone To Come to the Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival! As the Phoenix and the Whale answers the call, we see them as film makers, storytellers, actors and artists coming together in harmony around the logo, to share their stories and cultures from their worlds.

About the artist:

JP / Jason Pereira is a muralist and designer of Samoan descent (with a lil’ Portuguese!). Born and raised in Carson, he now resides in Garden Grove with his wife and son. JP has been an artist his entire life. As a kid he found inspiration in his father’s architectural work, and discovered his love for island culture during the summers he spent in American Samoa, attending cultural art workshops at the museum. As a teen and into adulthood, Jason’s creative interests gravitated towards graffiti art, but he always carried the artistry of his Pacific Island culture with him. Jason sought his education in Graphic Design and Murals, which led him to create his own apparel line JP South Pacific. Throughout that time to today, he has served the Pacific Islander communities as a resource in creating logos, t-shirt art, event branding, book cover design for the various non-profit, small business, and educational organizations.

Currently JP is the Artist-In-Residence at PIEAM (Pacific Island Ethnic Art Museum) in downtown Long Beach. There he participates as an artist in ongoing exhibits, he also holds art workshops and student talks, as well as works on his own creative projects, graphic design and commissioned works.

His recent work TRUST is on view at PIEAM now, as part of the Toe Foʻi: The Return exhibit.  In addition,  JP’s exterior installation entitled HOʻOKAHI (Hawaiian word meaning “to make one”), which  tell a visual story of holistic wellness and resilience, is also on-view at the museum.

It’s important to Jason to tell a story through his artwork. There’s always a story in what his pieces are about, what the creation process was, or even whatever drama or craziness that it took to get it done! Telling a story is innate to his culture as well as being essential to making a human connection with others. Because of JP’s influences from his Pacific Island, graffiti art and graphic design cultures, you’ll often find his style to be multi-layered, telling multi-stories, using multi-materials to make the works he creates.

JP on Instagram: @jpxinsta

About the Pacific Island Ethnic Art Museum (PIEAM):

The Pacific Island Ethnic Art Museum is the only museum in the contiguous United States with a mission to amplify the collective wisdom of the people of Oceania. Through a permanent collection, educational programs, rotating exhibits, and living arts, our purpose is to connect the community to resources and foster intercultural exchanges with appreciation and respect. PIEAM is generously supported by the Robert Gumbiner Foundation and by the PIEAM members whose annual support expands knowledge and appreciation of the arts of Oceania.


Instagram: @pieam_arts