Batik Exhibition in Seven Major US Cities

In the context of enhancing the bilateral relations between Indonesia and the U.S.A. through integrated cultural and investment promotions to increase the awareness about Indonesia by the people in the greater Washington D.C. area, the Embassy of the Republic of Indonesia, Consulate Generals of Indonesia throughout the U.S.A., Investment Coordinating Board of Indonesia and other parties involved, together with the family of Mrs. Maya Soetoro-Ng organized a series of exhibition of the private collection of Indonesian Batiks owned by the late Dr. Ann Dunham, mother of President Barack Obama, that was showcased in seven major cities across the U.S., namely Chicago, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Houston, New York, and Albany. The series of exhibition’s finale is held in Washington D.C. starting 9-23 August 2009 at the Textile Museum. The exhibition, with the title of “A Lady Found a Culture: Barack Obama’s Mother and Indonesian Batiks” displays 16 pieces of Indonesian Batiks collected by Dr. Ann Dunham during her stay in Indonesia between 1967 and 1972, her periodic returns afterward, and between 1989-1992 during her doctoral dissertation research for her degree in anthropology from the University of Hawaii.

Reception and Gala Dinner

The exhibition in Washington D.C. was inaugurated by a Reception and Gala Dinner extravaganza with the title of “Enchanting Indonesia”, organized by the Embassy of Indonesia and with the full support of Investment Coordinating Board of Indonesia, on the 8th of August 2009 at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel Washington D.C. The event was co-hosted by the Ambassador of Indonesian to the U.S.A. H.E. Sudjadnan Parnohadiningrat and the Chairman of Investment Coordinating Board of Indonesia Mr. Muhammad Lutfi, with President Obama’s little sister Mrs. Maya Soetoro-Ng and family as guests of honor. The event, with a dress code of “Black Tie or Batik”, was well attended by more than 500 invited guests comprising of representatives from the Department of State, Department of Energy, USTR, D.C. Mayor’s office, large US corporations, diplomatic corps and socialites of Washington D.C.

At the reception preceding the Gala Dinner, 12 pieces of Dr. Ann Dunham’s batiks were being displayed at the foyer of the Ballroom of the Mandarin Oriental Hotel along with 11 pieces of batik from the private collection of Indonesian First Lady Mdm. Ani Yudhoyono and also dozens of collection of hand woven textiles from Cita Tenun Indonesia (Indonesian Hand Woven Textile Association). Live batik making demonstration was also shown during the reception by a batik artist from Indonesia and a 20 painting exhibition with various batik themes. In a special event during the reception, 2 specially commissioned paintings of Dr. Ann Dunham and Mrs. Maya Soetoro-Ng with batik motifs as background are being handed over to Maya in a simple ceremony.

In his remarks, as was also mentioned during the Press Conference preceding the Reception attended by approximately 50 journalists from various media, the Ambassador of Indonesia conveyed his hope that the exhibitions will enhance the understanding of American public about the diversity and richness of Indonesian culture. A specific message from the Ambassador to the world is that batik with certain patterns and designs that are being exhibited are unmistakably Indonesian. Since the Indonesian independence 64 years ago, batik has been at the forefront of our national identity serving as a unifier of a country so varied in ethnic and cultural diversity. Today the Ambassador hopes that the textile can become a bridge for enhancing the relationship between the people of Indonesia and the U.S.A. The aforesaid batik collection of Dr. Ann Dunham is slated to be exhibited in Jakarta in time for the much anticipated President Obama’s visit to Indonesia in mid November 2009.

As co-host of the event, Chairman of Investment Coordinating Board of Indonesia conveyed the importance of increasing the economic welfare of the Indonesian people in the context of strengthening the democratic foundation of the country. Increasing investors confidence and the streams of investments, especially from the U.S., are among the avenues toward the fulfillment of that goal. The Chairman also hopes that through the exhibition, a better relationship that is based on increased confidence and credibility between the two countries can be achieved.

During her remarks, Mrs. Maya Soetoro-Ng, accompanied by her husband Konrad Ng and her baby on stage, expressed her highest appreciation to the Government of Indonesia for presenting her mother’s private collection of Indonesian batiks to the U.S. public. She also mentioned Dr. Ann Dunham’s great love towards Indonesian culture and arts, which was also inherent in her mother’s way of educating her two children to appreciate the similarity of U.S. and Indonesia in that they are both a culturally diverse countries.

Among the programs during the Gala Dinner, the guests were entertained with a fashion show by two young Indonesian designers, namely Priyo Oktaviano and Sebastian Gunawan, featuring Indonesian hand woven materials. The guests were also similarly entertained by traditional and contemporary cultural attractions, such as Gending Sriwijaya dance, Legong Bali dance and Rampai Aceh dance, along with Indonesian songs serenaded by Shakila accompanied by Niall Djuliarso on piano, followed by an interactive angklung numbers. The Gala Dinner finale showcased the combination of Saung Angklung Daeng Udjo and saxophone play by the Ambassador of Indonesia featuring the song “Heal the World” by the late Michael Jackson.

The Reception and Gala Dinner was supported by friends of Indonesia among others are US-Indonesia Society (USINDO), American Chamber of Commerce, US-ASEAN Business Council, and Asia Society. Support also came from the U.S. businesses such as Chevron, Exxon- Mobile, Freeport McMoRan, The Coca-cola Company, Cartier USA, Sisley USA and other participating sponsors.

Opening of the Exhibition at the Textile Museum

To kick-off the opening of the batik exhibition at the Textile Museum, a private brunch reception attended by approximately 100 guests was held on the 9th of August 2009. Guest of honors for the event was Ambassador of the Republic of Indonesia H.E. Sudjadnan Parnohadiningrat and Madame Nunung together with Mrs. Maya Soetoro-Ng and husband Konrad Ng. Also present during the festive private opening ceremony were representatives from the Investment Coordinating Board of Indonesia and the Indonesian Hand Woven Textile Association that honored the Textile Museum by donating several Indonesian hand woven textile pieces to add to the collection of the museum. There were record crowd of approximately 200 people lining up the private museum in the first few hours after the museum was opened for public starting the 9th – 23rd of August 2009.

Washington, D.C., 12 August 2009


Ricky E.V. Ichsan
Tel: (202) 775-5295

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