Wednesday, September 29, 2010

To Dye For

I was able to use my last hours in San Francisco on 26 September to visit “To Dye For, A world saturated in color” a small exhibit in the De Young Museum dedicated to textiles decorated using the resist-dye technique. The various techniques were explained briefly, but really the focus of the exhibit was on the exquisite cloths that have been made using these techniques: a mordant-dyed cloth from India, batiks from Java, Thailand and Toraja, ikat from Sumba, the Iban Dayak and Afghanistan, shibori from Japan, mud resist from Africa and so on. Each example was a perfect jewel and thus the exhibit earned the double entendre on its title.  I particularly enjoyed the blend of modern textile art pieces and traditional textiles in the exhibit, although the preponderance of California artists skewed the otherwise balanced, universal representation of the resist techniques. Related books and textile art souvenirs were available for purchase at the entrance of the exhibit.

Exhibit Review - Batak Textiles in San Francisco

On Friday 24 and Saturday 25 September, the Indonesian Consulate of San Francisco celebrated Indonesia’s Independence Day. Consul General, the Honourable Asianto Sinambela, made good use of the traditional reception of the diplomatic community in San Francisco to promote Indonesian culture. This time, the textiles of the Batak people of North Sumatra received their full due by means of an exhibit of superb examples both old and new. The diplomats were treated to a preview and a delicious Indonesian meal. The next day, the general public was free to come and take in the exhibition as well as a demonstration and a talk by yours truly.

The old textiles belonged to the collections of Noeleke Glenn Klavert of Indoarts and Curt and Keith Clemson of Dancing Threads and filled three rooms of the beautiful residence, Wisma Indonesia. The fourth room was dedicated to modern textiles and the explanation by the owner and dealer, Naomi Butarbutar, who came from Jakarta especially for this event.

Both days were very successful; more than 200 people attended each day. The mood was warm and friendly. The days were a true example of the highly esteemed Indonesian hospitality and the great wealth of Indonesian culture.

On the day of my departure, there was a group photograph
with the consular staff including the Consul General
Asianto Sinambela (to my left) and his wife (to my right).
It was a special moment when I felt very touched by their warmth.