Having been born and raised in the bay area, I am very Californian. Many of my favorite artists, writers, comedians, are American.
At the same time, my parents' pacific cultures retain a strong influence on me. My Samoan dad and my Tongan mother (who has Fijian heritage) raised me to practice pacific values for community support, family responsibilities, and church. So while I was born and raised in the American diaspora, the diaspora is Not all I know.
You can see the influence of both American and Islander cultures in my art and writing:
My first collection of paintings (windows) has a lot of water, beach, ocean, tropical flavors. Three of those paintings are based on San Francisco.
The second collection of paintings (smiles) were based on faces. Some of those faces are American celebrities.
I tend to write Parables that I repackage as children stories because I like discussing life lessons and illustrating them in simple forms.
My first original children story (Maka and the Impossible) is based on my Polynesian American experience in higher education. It's kind of American Dream meets The Alchemist. It's a parable of Ambition. The character, "Maka", traveled further than I have, but I hope to catch up with his big dreaming.
The second original children story (The Offputting Duckling) was influenced by my hometown of San Francisco. It's a parable of Nonconformity. I took the old story of The Ugly Duckling, and asked the question: What if the duckling never grew up to become beautiful? What if the ugly duckling stayed ugly? This train of thought leads to self-celebration, self-acceptance, and self-love. Some of us blossom on the outside (like the swan character in the original story of the ugly duckling), and some of us blossom on the inside (which I think is a more beautiful story to explore).
I use my writing and art to talk about experiences from a Polynesian American perspective.