coconutcodes

I am traveling around the Kingdom of Tonga for 10 months on a Fulbright grant to research the tradition of tapa cloth production by local Tongan women’s collectives, with a particular emphasis on the painted designs (kupesi). By studying how Tongan women represent local environments and cultural events in graphic, geometric shapes, I hope to better understand how Tongans visually represent their culture and pass down important information through pattern. I will document not only the process by which tapa cloths are made, but also the lives of the women who produce them and the natural elements and communities that inform their designs. The footage I collect will be the raw materials from which I will create my own “video tapas” that reflect my time spent in Tonga. My end goal is to project these “video tapas” onto blank stretches of tapa cloth both in Tonga and back in the U.S. This blog serves as a visual diary of my time in Tonga and a way to update family and friends back home about my journey. The opinions on this blog are my own and do not reflect the view of the Fulbright Program or the US government.