Asmat group

Cuesta College’s Harold J. Miossi Art Gallery is set to host a trio of Asmat - an ethnic group of New Guinea people - in a cultural exchange that will showcase the artistry of the Asmat culture.

On July 26, from 6:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m., in the Harold J. Miossi Art Gallery courtyard, three Asmat artists will display hand carved drums, demonstrate traditional drumming and perform ceremonial dances. Elaborately carved Asmat masks and costumes will also be on display.

The Asmat are one of the indigenous peoples of the island of New Guinea, which lies directly north of Australia in the southwest Pacific Ocean. Today, the Asmat’s homelands lie within the modern nation of Indonesia and are only accessible by canoe. The Asmat have one of the most well-known woodcarving traditions in the Pacific, and their art is sought by collectors worldwide.

The three Asmat artists visiting Cuesta College are on a United States tour, which includes stops in St. Paul, MN, Chicago, IL, and Los Angeles.

“It has been nearly 20 years since any Asmat have visited the United States, and this trip is a first for these artists outside of their homeland,” said Cuesta College Fine and Performing Arts Support Coordinator Nancy Douglas. “Cuesta College is thrilled to bring the Asmat culture to the Central Coast.”

Two master carvers featured in the event are Biatus Amernat and Feransiskus Yemes from Omanesep, a village known for its strong tradition of wood sculpture and monumental ancestor poles. Joining them will be Bernat Bicimpari, a master singer and drummer from the village of Syuru. Drums are an extremely important part of the Asmat culture; the instruments are a part of everyday life and are an integral part of all ceremonies and rituals. The artists will also be joined by a translator.

This is a free community event with free parking directly in front of the Cuesta College Cultural and Performing Arts Center in lot 2. The Harold J. Miossi Art Gallery is located in room 7170, on the San Luis Obispo Campus of Cuesta College. For more information, please call (805) 546-3202.

For more information on the Asmat people, click here.