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CMA’s Indonesian Cultural Festival


A wonderful event, the ‘Indonesian Cultural festival’, organized by the Children’s Museum of the Arts, took place last week in the heart of New York City, celebrating and implementing the important role of the Arts as an educational tool for the betterment of future generations. The mission of the Children’s Museum of the Arts is to introduce children and their families to the transformative power of the arts by providing opportunities to collaboratively make art with working artists

In the eyes of our parent organization, Sacred Bridge, children and teenagers are the most important layers of society. They are the ones who will inherit the positive and negative aspects of our actions today. Children today grow up in the midst of dense populations, consumerism, crime and violence, rapid technological advancement, intense competition, and an ever-widening gap between the fortunate and the unfortunate. Judging by these factors, it must be very uneasy for the young to survive this part of the wilderness. 

Therefore, it is vital that we can acknowledge and be informed of the shared purpose and mission with the museum, which also aims to open doors to global friendship for mutual enrichment to confront the ongoing concerns of this century; especially for our children and their future. 

In the spirit of Reborn, the Sacred Bridge Foundation is reactivating one of its field programs under the domain of ‘Cultural Education for the Young’: Hugging the City and Hugging the Nature. These creative camps are designed to revive human sensitivity toward visual, verbal, musical, and psychosomatic perspectives and capabilities through art activities. This stimulation will enable the participants to learn the true principles of experiencing life from the wisdom found in human culture and the inherent nature underlying the cosmos. This can be actualized through the utilization of creative activities  such as dancing, painting, art installations, pottery, mime, storytelling and music. 

According to Ian Tousius, the Lead arts tutor at CMA, “Selecting artists to highlight during CMA’s Cultural Festivals are a collaborative effort amongst the department managers. We look for contemporary artists who have an active studio practice, and whose work is informed by the place that they come from. We don’t want to highlight an artist simply because they come from a culture that we are celebrating. Instead, we seek to highlight artists whose artistic practices touch upon themes that informed by their upbringing, living situation, or response to current events in the countries or geographic areas that we are spotlighting”.

All Cultural manifestations, including the Arts, are contextual. Any art serves its own purposes and ideals according to the historical contexts within which it was created. Historically speaking, Art is a powerful intermediary medium that addresses relevant current issues that are experienced directly by the artists and the societies they live in. 

Every project at CMA incorporates the museum’s pedagogy of Look, Make, Share, and Look resonates strongly with the importance of context, not only in providing visual references and examples of the artist’s work for children to understand what is being created, but also regarding the issues that the work is responding to, which is of equal importance. Technological advancement has reaped positive impacts for many whilst at the same time it has also reduced the human connection and active engagements of many artists with their surroundings, living situations and reality. Furthermore, Ian elaborates that Make is easiest to implement — without it, there would be no project! Share is arguably the easiest to disregard, but encouraging young artists to talk about their work and recognize their own accomplishments can create an everlasting confidence in themselves, and increase their appreciation for the transformative power of art, from very early on in life.

In conjunction, we will also present an in-depth Interview with Dolorosa Sinaga, one of Indonesia’s leading artists, sculptors and activists, who was one of the first art facilitators in Hugging the Nature, and who also recently inspired the workshop titled ‘Wonderful Woman’ at the Children’s Museum of the Arts festival.  

In collaboration with PERMIAS New York City, a non-profit Indonesian student association consisting of Indonesian students living in all five areas of New York City: Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, The Bronx, and Staten Island; Patricia Argie, the Vice President of Communications at PERMIAS NYC provides a brief summary of the Indonesian Cultural festival. For those who have missed the event, the following summary will provide ‘insights’ of the event, which includes photographs of such a wonderful event.

For this occasion, Listen To The World would also like to thank Bhima Aryateja and Andhini Febrina, the founder of AKAR, a not-for-profit organization that aims is to reintroduce Indonesian cultural heritage to Indonesian children who were born in the US by using Indonesian language as the main vehicle. Here is the link to the past interview with AKAR foundation including a psychological insight on cultural roots and identity by Denny Putra (



On Sunday, February 9th 2020, Children’s Museum of the Arts hosted an Indonesian Cultural Festival as a way to introduce Indonesian culture to children through arts and crafts. 

Photo courtesy of PERMIAS NYC / Patricia Argie

The festival commenced as soon as the museum opened and right away, guests were greeted with a very familiar tune every Indonesian would probably know, “Ondel-ondel.” A variety of activities related to Indonesia were spread out throughout the museum. Across the main hall, there was a vast array of Indonesian-related displays, mainly those based off batik. 

Display in the hallway | Photo courtesy of PERMIAS NYC / Patricia Argie

I started my exploration with the exhibit at the furthest left of the hallway, an exhibition inspired by FX Harsono, one of Indonesia’s most famous artists known for his work through contemporary media. Harsono created mixed media works through the use of old photographs and new technology. The moment I stepped into the room, I was greeted by a staff who introduced me to the exhibition. There were photographs, cutouts and a few cameras for visitors to use and we were able to attempt to recreate Harsono’s works. Through computers that were provided, visitors were able to save a copy of their work and have them sent through email. 

Photo courtesy of PERMIAS NYC / Patricia Argie
FX Harsono’s stop motion workshop | Photo courtesy of PERMIAS NYC / Patricia Argie

Once that was over, I stopped by at the second exhibit at the museum, which was a clay workshop. The amount of people that can participate in this workshop was very limited due to the seating, so children were encouraged to sign up prior to participating in the activity. In this workshop, they were taught to make crafts that are related to Indonesia. Right next to the clay room, there is a music booth where children were taught to make music Indonesian themed music through the use of various instruments. This exhibit was sponsored by Gamelan Dharma Swara and children were able to recreate sounds inspired by them through the use of drums, chimes and natural sounds. Like the clay workshops, the space is limited so children must register for a time slot beforehand.

Music booth workshop | Photo courtesy of CMA

At the end of the hallway there is a fine arts room where children are free to express their creativity. Two workshops are available there, namely “Our Connected Community” inspired by Entang Wiharso, where children are taught to make metal sculptures as part of a collaborative relief piece, as well as Wonderful Women, inspired by Dolorosa Sinaga, where children are given an abundance of material to create a mini sculptural version of an important female figure in their life. 

As the room was divided into two sections, there were two sets of materials and descriptions in two sections of the room. To the right of the entrance was Wiharso’s workshop where children were provided with various materials, including pliers and pieces of metal materials. The children were given the opportunity to create whatever they felt would fit with the theme. At the end, they were asked to add their creations to a collaborative sculpture, combined with other artworks made by other visitors of the CMA. 

Toolset and materials for Entang Wiharso’s workshop | Photo courtesy of PERMIAS NYC / Patricia Argie

The second half of the room, which was Dolorosa Sinaga’s workshop, used a different set of materials and had a different theme. Sinaga’s workshop focuses on female figures that had a significant importance or contribution in the children’s life, in hopes that this can empower women in difficult times. As she is a sculptor from Sumatra, the children were asked to recreate her artwork by taking a few materials that were provided and be free with their imagination.

Children participating in Dolorosa’s workshop | Photo courtesy of PERMIAS NYC / Patricia Argie

Alongside the exhibits, there were various performances as well. At 12 p.m., Gamelan Dharma Swara performed a Balinese dance as well as a Gamelan performance. The founder of Gamelan Dharma Swara was there to inform visitors of Indonesian culture and what they can do to learn more if they are interested in the culture. At 1 p.m., there was a storytelling session presented by the Hudson Library, and the books that were chosen include Run, Elephant, Run, which was inspired by an Indonesian rainforest setting, as well as Go to Sleep, Gecko, based on a Balinese folktale. 

Balinese Dance Performance | Photo courtesy of CMA
Gamelan Performance – Photo courtesy of CMA

All in all, this festival was a great opportunity for Indonesians to exhibit our culture as well as for those who are not familiar with Indonesian culture to learn more about the nation through arts and crafts. 


Stay tune for our in depth interview with Dolorosa Sinaga.



Author: Patricia Argie

Vice President of Communications
PERMIAS NYC 2019-2020

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