Today’s event marked our milestone, where I got the opportunity to be one of the panelist to introduce Art Jam Sessions at ArtSEA Launch supported by Singapore International Foundation. I was nervous in so many levels, but eventually, the words just flew smoothly like a song that I love to sing.
I initiated Art Jam Sessions in August 2017 as an art-learning platform for my son and his friends in our homeschooling community. We started with 20 kids, and now we have hundreds members from across Indonesia and also Singapore, Malaysia and Australia. Most of our members are homeschoolers, but formal students are always welcome to join us. Our sessions are conducted in Bahasa Indonesia and English to ensure that art will be more and more accessible for many children.
I introduced myself as a homeschoolers mom. I’m an architect&interior designer, half time. While my other half time as a community artist, facilitating hundreds members of our community based art learning named Art Jam Sessions. This is the part when I introduced our growing community-based art learning.
I like interacting with kids and youngsters. I think they are amazing artists with raw and fresh ideas, very inspiring and never failed to amaze me in so many ways.
Q: What does community mean to you? And what are the challenges you’re facing working with community-based project?
To me, community means people having the same concerns, but at the same time, we also have multiple skills and knowledges to share with each other.
So together we try to solve the same problems, for the same purpose and vision.
Often people underestimate themselves, thinking that they don’t have anything to share to the community, while in fact there are million things one can share. There’s no limit of what we can share to other people. Therefore, the impact is always surprising, to me, and to the community members.
Speaking about impact, as a community artist working in this community-based project, I personally keep on reminding myself and also our community members, that we won’t see the impact instantly. Because our product is not something that we can actually touch or feel or sense with whatever our receiving equipments we have within our body. Our products and artworks, however, are the impact itself, that hopefully will be reflected in our daily life.
Hence, I’ll say the biggest challenges that we’re facing is that, not every members understand and willing to go through the long process.
Along the way, there’ll be members who come and go. I would even put a word dissipating into thin air. Those who expected to see the result instantly and gave up half way. Those who only wish to receive and not to give back for the community. It’s often contagious this kind of behaviour.
But that’s okay. Because the good thing is that, those who stick around are actually the one who share the most similar concerns, purposes and missions. They are the one who keep the community together and stronger each and every step of the way.
Q: What role do you see arts can play in strengthening communities, especially in these new normals circumstances?
I see art as a collections of experiences, perspectives and appreciations, in which life is all about.
I was a little bit sceptical at first about these new normal circumstances and how it will affects our community, because our soul used to be the art-jamming activities, and new normal changes or the very least limits our gatherings.
But then I realise, our community members share the same way of seeing art as part of our live. We share experiences, perspectives and appreciations, and we need to keep it that way. These are things that keep us together.
I remember what Mr. Alvin, Minister of State who gave an opening speech at this event was saying that, art has integral characteristics, it’s a part of one whole. So our live without art won’t feel whole. In Indonesian we have this saying, “Sejuta tanpa seribuan gak akan jadi sejuta”. In english, we can say it as, “A million without a dollar will not make a million”. That is an expression to emphasize how underrated a dollar is, when in fact this one part is very crucial in the process making a million. Art share the similar analogy. We need art to feel whole.
And so we adapt and decided to meet up every week via Zoom, because we need this. The Pandemic took many things from us, but at least we always have art.
So, yeah, we survived The Pandemic so far.
Q: How do you balance between the projects and the profits to ensure the sustainability of the community financially? And what is your perspective in reaching on gatekeepers to support your project?
In my experiences as a community artist, we want to make it clear that we’re here for the impact, not to profit. We want to send a message, build an impact. So we need to draw a boundary within our community members, that we will never allowed to gain profit within each others.
We want to make sure that we sustain because we are pieces of puzzles that completes one another, voluntarily share our skills, knowledges and spirits.
Plus, I personally think that it can be very confusing to run a non-profit community while trying to gain profit. It just feels wrong and inconsistent.
So we do cross-funding instead.
We have Art Jam Sessions community as a non-profit organisation. We sometimes receive participatory funds voluntarily from our community members to cover the operational cost.
While at the same time we also have Studio Kotak-Katik to support the community by conducting various kind of workshops and classes. It was a hands-on activities, but then pandemic happens, so our workshops and classes are online basis via Zoom. It’s surprisingly going well, considering. Apparently many parents are looking for paid online activities just to have their kids stick on screen, while gaining knowledge instead of playing games or watching youtube. Sorry to say but yeah, we take benefits from this phenomenon.
As a community projects, we also want to make sure that we only wish to collaborate or commissioned with a certain gatekeepers whose share similar concerns, purposes and visions.
Q: Can you tell us about your experience with ArtSEA Project, and whether you think your community will benefits from the activities, and also your thoughts on the activities!
First of all, we are so grateful for the opportunity to meet Kristin, Zing and Beks with their amazing ideas on ArtSEA.
Me and my partner joined the workshop series and since the first session, I fell in love with their amazing ideas. How they connected the communities from Southeast Asia countries and introduced us with so many new art activities, artworks and artists from Southeast Asia countries, whose in fact have things in common culturally and geographically. Yet I find it hard to access the artist and their artworks.
So to me, ArtSEA is like an open door to so many possibilities of exploring art that are open-ended and more relatable to all. I personally think that the activities ideas reflects our mission to make art accessible and affordable, very inspiring!
So thank you again, Kristin, Zing and Beks.
I really hope that ArtSEA will not stop with these 11 artists, because I believe there are many more Southeast Asia artists to be discovered and introduced to our children. Because what happens now is that many kids still see the same few artists highlighted again and again in their learning.
I wish ArtSEA can be a platform to showcase as many local Southeast Asia artworks and artists as possible!