Delsa Atoa, 16, from Apia, Western Samoa, captured a cash prize in this year’s contest with her unusual art entry.

She combined traditional Samoan motifs with native crafts to produce bright, clean designs that are universally pleasing. She paints on siapo, or tapa, a cloth made from the bark of the mulberry tree. Delsa makes her own brushes from the fruit of the pandanus tree. She makes dyes from native Samoan plants. Red comes from the loa berry or annato seeds, brown from the bark of the o’a tree, yellow from tumeric roots, and black from the candlenut after it has been baked in an oven.

Using her homemade brushes, Delsa does each painting freehand without the benefit of patterns or templates. She varies the traditional Samoan symbols in combinations.

The native symbols below make up the bulk of her work.

[illustrations] Art by Delsa Atoa

[photo] Delsa Atoa