“From Bali to Bala” — a holiday sale of unique Indonesian handcrafts, and contemporary batik paintings by Laura F. Cohn. — is currently drawing visitors from throughout the Philadelphia region to Chestnut Hill. This event, hosted by Bala Cynwyd-based artist Laura Cohn, marks the 16th year Ms. Cohn has brought a taste of Indonesian culture to the Philadelphia region, and the third consecutive year in a Chestnut Hill site. The show opened November 23, and it runs through December 23.
“I love being in Chestnut Hill,” she says. “All of my visitors take such an interest not only in the crafts and my paintings, but are also fascinated by Indonesian culture: its culture, colors, and traditions. While most people haven’t had the chance to visit this fascinating land, half a world away, most have heard of Bali and Java, and they want to learn more.”
And that is exactly the point. “I learned that the more you see the world and meet other people, the more you recognize how much we share,” she says. “From the beginning, I fell in love with Indonesia, and I made it my second home.” She also decided, early on, that she didn’t just want to make a living from her love of Indonesia: she wanted to make a life. So, starting with her first visit to Indonesia in 1988, she spent fully six years living and working there and learning the art of batik (an ancient artistic process using hot wax and colored dye, primarily to decorate textiles) before she moved to the Philadelphia area in 1995. Since then, she has brought unique treasures from Indonesia of all kinds for visitors to view and to buy.
“Equally important,” she says, “is the chance for visitors to experience a broad range of hands-on activities that can give them a tangible taste of this ancient and fascinating land.” To make this dream a reality, this year “From Bali to Bala” is offering a broad slate of special events. For example, over the next several weeks, visitors will have the chance to hear music from an Indonesian shadow puppet play, bring children to an Indonesian story hour, hear travel stories and view slides of Indonesia, learn to make shadow puppets, and take a class on Balinesian dance. Many of the activities take place at no charge.
Cohn is enthusiastic. “This year, we have more events than ever. If a visitor takes even one or two classes, or participates in just a few events, he or she will leave with a unique taste of Indonesia, and still be home in time for dinner!”
Saturday, December 8th @ 3 pm – MUSIC FROM THE SHADOW PUPPET PLAY – Join us to hear music from the Balinese Shadow Puppet play and a lecture/demonstration on Balinese drumming by Matt Elkins and Thomas Whitman from Swarthmore College.
Sunday, December 9th @ 5 pm – FILM SCREENING “Guerrilla Midwife” – Join us to screen the film “Guerrilla Midwife.” In this inspirational documentary, you will discover how one determined midwife dedicates her life to providing a better pregnancy and childbirth experience among the women of Indonesia. Donations will be accepted to support Robin Lim, the “Guerrilla Midwife” and CNN Hero-of-the-Year in 2011, and her nonprofit organization, Bumi Sehat.
Tuesday, December 11th @ 4:30 & Saturday, December 15th @ 4:30 – CHILDREN’S INDONESIAN STORY HOUR – Bring your children to hear tales from across the world, brought to life from Indonesian children’s books and shared by creative storytellers.
Sunday, December 16th - 5 – 6 pm – INDONESIAN TRAVEL STORIES & SLIDES – Laura Cohn will share with you her 25 years of living, working and loving Indonesia through a slide show and personal narratives.
Tuesday, December 18th @ 4:30 pm – SHADOW PUPPET MAKING WORKSHOP – Learn about the rich cultural history of Indonesian shadow puppets, craft your own puppet, and become a puppet master storyteller. Registration required and a charge of $5 for supplies; both adults & children are welcome to participate.
Monday, December 10th & 17th – 5 – 6 pm – BALINESE DANCE CLASS – Come join our fantastic teacher Mutia Hite and experience the beautiful art of Balinese dance by learning its basic postures and movements. The classes will end with a short performance. There is an $8 charge per person, and both adults & children are welcome to participate. Please call to register in advance.
From Bali to Bala: Special Events Highlight Current Show and Sale is at 8335 Germantown Ave. in Chestnut Hill, Philadelphia.