by Ellen C. Caldwell
Ni Nyoman Sani’s studio at Muja Art Studio, Sukawati, Bali. Photo courtesy of Ellen C. Caldwell and the artist.
Over the past five months, Artsy Forager has been nice enough to welcome my guest posts about my arts residency in Bali. During this time, I have shared some of my favorite experiences, artists, studio visits, and reflections.
To end this series on a high note, I saved the best for last. One of the nicest and most welcoming artists and people I met during my residency is woman named Ni Nyoman Sani. She welcomed me to her home, to Mother Art Space (then called Seniwati Art Space), and to her family’s shared creative workshop and gallery Muja Art Studio. Sani also helped to arrange multiple interviews with talented female artists ranging from internationally known painters like Mangku Muriati to younger emerging artists like Emy Triani and Ni Ketut Ratnasih.
Ni Nyoman Sani’s studio at Muja Art Studio, Sukawati, Bali. Photo courtesy of Ellen C. Caldwell and the artist.
Part of Sani’s charm and charisma is that she seems to always put others first in such a generous and heartfelt way. She shied away when I focused questions on her, instead always insisting on highlighting the work of her fellow artists and family members.
With this in mind, I am going to take a few moments introduce her work with Mother Art Space and her multi-generational family studio, and then I will share my interview with Sani about her own work and art practice, in order to turn the tables and reflect some of her light back onto her art, work, and passion.
Ni Nyoman Sani with new sign Mother Art Space, Batubulan, Bali. Photo courtesy of the artist.
Mother Art Studio originally started as Seniwati Gallery in Ubud, and then later transitioned into Seniwati Art Space under Sani’s guidance and direction. There, she created a nurturing creative space that encourages collaborative workshops, exhibitions, and studio gatherings with women—both locally and internationally. In this sense, it is not just a gallery space, but a center for collaboration and shared support between women. Since there are not as many female artists practicing art in Bali (particularly in the more contemporary scene), this is really special and important.
However, Sani has recently cultivated some new changes in the space, changing its name to Mother Art Space and casting a wider net of participants to include male and female artists of all generations. Sani felt that there was a wider group of artists she could reach if they expanded their scope in this way and they are now planning exhibits, collaborations, and international residencies there.
left | Façade of Muja Art Studio, Sukawati, Bali. Photo courtesy of the artist.
right | Made Supena, Balinese stone, 2004. Muja Art Studio, Sukawati, Bali. Photo courtesy of Ellen C. Caldwell and the artist.
Another endeavor Sani helps to manage is her multi-generational family art space called Muja Art Studio. Muja features the work of six family members from three different generations – including sculpture, painting, carving, performance art, and more.
top right | Ketut Muja, Bhima, carved wood. Muja Art Studio, Sukawati, Bali. Photo courtesy of Ellen C. Caldwell and the artist.
top left | Ketut Muja, The story of knowledge, carved wood. Muja Art Studio, Sukawati, Bali. Photo courtesy of Ellen C. Caldwell and the artist.
bottom right I Ketut Muja, The story of knowledge – detail.
bottom left | Sculptural works by I Wayan Jana. Muja Art Studio, Sukawati, Bali. Photo courtesy of Ellen C. Caldwell and the artist.
Here, there is a range of working studios and gallery spaces so that one can visit this creative center and see art in process in addition to the finished work on display. The studio is a delightful and inspirational place to visit, featuring the work of:
- I Ketut Muja, sculptor, age 71
- I Wayan Jana, sculptor, age 46
- I Made Supena, painter and sculptor, age 42
- I Ketut Sugantika Le Kung, painter, performer, and sculptor, age 38
- Ni Nyoman Sani, painter, poet, clothing designer, and photographer, age 38
Together, they are a family of artists showing their works internationally in exhibits ranging from locally in Bali and Jakarta, and going to Singapore, Australia, Spain, Holland, Belgium, and Germany.
left | Made Supena, The Mountain Series. Muja Art Studio, Sukawati, Bali. Photo courtesy of Ellen C. Caldwell and the artist.
right | Made Supena, Embryo Series 2, Muja Art Studio, Sukawati, Bali. Photo courtesy of Ellen C. Caldwell and the artist.
And last but not least, I would like to end by sharing my interview with Sani, as we discussed her work and process. Her paintings satisfy and explore a cosmopolitan sense – focusing on smart fashion, both international and Balinese. There is a clear strength in the women she depicts and after meeting Sani and learning about her work, this all makes perfect sense. She is all about supporting artists – both young and old, male and female, local and abroad. And it is a privilege to know her.
Ellen Caldwell | When did you start painting/practicing your art?
Ni Nyoman Sani | I started painting on canvas in 1990. I loved to paint from when I was a little girl. And I became a member of Seniwati Gallery in 1994, when it was in Ubud. I continued my education at the Art Institute in Denpasar from 1995 – 2000. Until now still acting with my art creatively and I also lead the Seniwati Art Space [now Mother Art Space, as of July 2014] and in the future, Muja Art Management.
EC | Have you always painted or did family teach you?
NNS | Art is my second soul, and none of my family is doing the same. I feel blessed with my art life and love to continue it, for giving and sharing some changes with other women.
EC | Please tell me a little bit about your process. What is unique about it?
NNS | I love to look at in every moment of life, and focus my eyes on people and what they do to grow up. Their life, especially the specifics…not too far from daily life. And all becomes unique and accumulates in my mind. At this time, then a new idea will follow in my art process.
left | Ni Nyoman Sani’s studio at Muja Art Studio, Sukawati, Bali. Photo courtesy of Ellen C. Caldwell and the artist.
right | Ni Nyoman Sani’, painting detail. Photo courtesy of Ellen C. Caldwell and the artist.
EC | Do you have a signature style or look that is unique to you?
NNS | I paint with my own style…fashion and women. And it’s become unique with the head cropping I do.
EC | What are you currently working on?
NNS | I usually work with my ideas, and I love to combine poetry, art, photograph, fashion, and also video art…My husband always supports me, our children give us time, and our family mostly support it. My friends, we are always sharing about what we are doing to increase Balinese art.
EC | How do you think that living in Bali has impacted your own artistic practice?
NNS | Bali for me is a good place and all my life has been here. I am a totally Balinese woman. But part of myself belongs to the art world. I mean, I feel free to become who I am. But it is also hard, because I am a Balinese—with full social and traditional life.
I enjoy my life; I have a kind husband, two children who understand my life, family who always back up me, and a lot of friends who really care about and love me.
Many thanks to Sani for her creative inspiration and for all of the work she does to encourage and cultivate the arts in Bali. Contact Sani to find out more about visiting her studios or applying for art residencies, workshops, and collaborations.
To learn more about my time researching and writing about art in Bali and to see more of Sani and Muja Art Studio, please view the video below.
Ellen C. Caldwell “Bali to Cali: Bridging the Distance through Writing and Art,” 2014. Produced by Kate Johnson and Michael J. Masucci, with support from Yayasan Bali Purnati Center for the Arts; 18th Street Art Center, Santa Monica; and the Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs.
Ellen C. Caldwell is an LA-based art historian, writer, and editor. For links to all of her Bali-related writing (and future writings), please visit the Bali portion of her website. Many thanks to Lesley for featuring my posts and welcoming my writing and creativity to find a home here these past five months.
Some people find horizontal lines soothing. Maybe I’m weird, but I almost always prefer vertical lines. Perhaps a nod to the soaring peaks of the mountains I love so much? Textile artist Nike Schroeder takes full advantage of verticality in her string sculptures and I can’t get enough of them.
The tactile quality of the string and the way it hangs seems to give a nod in my eye to indigenous garments and weavings. There is also an intriguing sense of color field painting to each piece, as the individual string colors shift gradually, almost imperceptibly to create depth, line and shadow. The nature lover in me sees moss silently drooping in fog, a waterfall cascading over a cliffside. Silent representations of a world of life.
To see more of Nike Schroeder’s work, please visit her website.
All images via the artist’s website. Artist found via The Jealous Curartor for The Fig House with Emily Henderson.
There is work that enchants us for a moment, we think, “oh, that’s very nice!” but then move on, maybe occasionally coming back to it. But then there is work that is completely mesmerizing from the moment we see it, drawing us in and nearly drowning us in its magic. These watercolors by Seattle artist Jeffrey Simmons have me utterly hypnotized with their radiating forms and precisely blurred lines.
These pulsating forms have an incredibly cosmic quality, like stars shining brightly in the blackest night. The shifts in color are so incredibly subtle, that I find my eyes moving almost imperceptibly between forms, diving down into the depths and then emerging to the feathery banks. This is watercolor taken to another universe, devoid of tradition and full of possibility.
To see more of Jeffrey Simmons‘ work, please visit his website. You can see his work in person at Greg Kucera Gallery in Seattle, one of my favorite spots in my favorite city.
All images via the artist’s website. Artist found via Greg Kucera Gallery.
There comes a time in this life when we come to the realization that we are, indeed, not going to be here forever. For some, this revelation takes longer than for others, but its definitely taken its hold on me recently. This series, Impermanence, by artist Seung Hwan Oh emphasizes the balance between creation, life, and destruction in these ephemeral photographs.
From the artist’s site– “The process involves the cultivation of emulsion consuming microbes on a visual environment created through portraits and a physical environment composed of developed film immersed in water. As the microbes consume light-sensitive chemical over the course of months or years, the silver halides destabilize, obfuscating the legibility of foreground, background, and scale. This creates an aesthetic of entangled creation and destruction that inevitably is ephemeral, and results in complete disintegration of the film so that it can only be delicately digitized before it is consumed.”
My mom’s illness has definitely caused Mr. F and I to think more closely about our own physical, emotional and spiritual health and what that means for our future. There are no guarantees, of course, but we’re trying very hard to move through each day with a focus on not only on cultivating our all too quickly approaching future, but more importantly, to be fully present in the now.
To see more of Seung Hwan Oh‘s work, please visit the artist’s website.
All images are via the artist’s website. Artist found via I Need a Guide.
When we’re out hiking, I always notice something that seems so contradictory. One would assume that most people who hike are doing so for the enjoyment of the outdoor world. So why in the world would they think it is OK to leave their trash all over the trail? Man in general seems to have this sort of dysfunctional relationship with nature and in this series of photos by artist Jessica Tremp, I see the drama being played out.
Nature, in its ineffable beauty calls out to our spirits and our souls. We long to not just see it, but experience it, for it to become a part of us. But inevitably, our selfishness gains the upper hand and we do the very thing we hate– we become part of the problem. We drive our car too much, we let the water run while we brush our teeth, we throw away what we no longer want and so that our garbage fills what was once pristine. And then we cry over what we have done, cursing ourselves, only to continue the cycle day after day.
To see more of Jessica Tremp‘s work, please visit her website.
All images via the artist’s website. Artist found via The Artful Desperado.
On the way back to the Coast from Yosemite, Mr. F and I decided to spend the day in Napa Valley to do a little wine tasting. Serendipitously, we happened to pass through St. Helena where there were a few galleries I couldn’t wait to peruse. As we walked into Caldwell Snyder Gallery, Mr. F and I were both immediately drawn to the enigmatic work of Cole Morgan.
One of the best things about gallery hopping with Mr. F is when we’re both intrigued by the work of the same artist and share what we love about it. Morgan’s use of circles and shadows, along with carefully crafted yet spontaneously appearing layers give his work an interesting crypticness. Spheres seem to float yet are grounded with shadow, so which is their reality?
To see more of Cole Morgan’s work, please visit the Caldwell Snyder website.
Second image via the Gail Severn Gallery website, all other images via the Caldwell Snyder website.
by Stephanie Clark
“I love going out of my way, beyond what I know, and finding my way back a few extra miles, by another trail, with a compass that argues with the map…nights alone in motels in remote western towns where I know no one and no one I know knows where I am, nights with strange paintings and floral spreads and cable television that furnish a reprieve from my own biography, when in Benjamin’s terms, I have lost myself though I know where I am. Moments when I say to myself as feet or car clear a crest or round a bend, I have never seen this place before. Times when some architectural detail on vista that has escaped me these many years says to me that I never did know where I was, even when I was home.”
-Rebecca Solnit, A Field Guide to Getting Lost
I arrived in Toronto, ON at well past midnight. The nights have become my most favorite times both on and off of Toronto Island, where I was a resident artist for the first two weeks of August at Artscape Gibraltar Point Centre for the Arts. I was greeted during my first twenty-four hours in my travels by painter, Genevieve Robertson, carpenter and leather worker, Shane Trudell, and of course Finn, their trusty marble-eyed hound. Robertson is a community-based visual artist and painter who paints abstract landscape paintings. We first met in 2012, when we were in residence at The Homestead in Willow, Alaska. It was here that we bonded over a mutual obsession with Payne’s grey, mountains, migration, and abstraction. We began what is now a collaborative, durational project entitled Call and Response.
As day became evening during my first twenty-four hours residing and working on Toronto Island, I made my way over to the Toronto Island Fire Parade, an annual celebration organized by Shadowland Troupe. By far, this had to be the best introduction to a locale and residency that I have encountered at this time. The fire had to be at least 25 feet tall, which, we arrived at after following a troupe of paper lantern wielding gymnasts who fire danced as a crowd of onlookers followed them to the beach. Later in the evening as young beach dwellers took to splashing in the blue-black lake, samosas in a pan rested over the coals of what once was the raging bonfire. The sparks flew up as we prodded the glowing coals with sticks and added logs to the fire to keep it going. Not that the fire needed much encouragement.
“Could you paint that campfire?” … “No, it is too beautiful.”, 2014
Lake Ontario appeared to push forward, endlessly into the night, and the moon and stars were covered by clouds. Everything glowed orange, yellow, and red, as light reflections danced across the water’s surface. Everything was at once open and insulated. As I walked away from the fire that night and into the darkness, all felt surrounded in blackness and the soft sounds of laughter and ocean. My walk back to studio was shrouded in green leafy trees whispering softly as if in conversation with the waters that sloshed rhythmically in the distance. This was how my trip began and I thought of Alex Katz’s night paintings. Of temporality, ephemerality, the fleeting nature of night, and the intense shroud that night surrounds you in: a veil that encompasses both comfort and uncertainty.
The days that followed were filled with planning and making. Robertson and I prepared ten works from our Call and Response series for the opening at Milk Glass Co. Since meeting at The Homestead, we had mailed each other small triangular paintings and responded to what was sent by the other. A result of this on-going durational project is some 40 sets of triangles that represent a painterly dialogue between Robertson and myself over the course of two years.
Exhibition install at Milk Glass Co., Toronto, ON, Canada
Images courtesy Genevieve Robertson and Stephanie Clark
Exhibition install at Milk Glass Co., Toronto, ON, Canada
Image courtesy Genevieve Robertson and Stephanie Clark
I spent three days in Toronto aiding in the install of the show. After the opening and a few days spent in the city, I returned to the Island and my studio.
The air on Toronto Island was often thick with water and rain. Through the tall windows of my studio at Gibraltar Point Centre for the Arts—which was once a classroom—I could see the full trees. As I made my way to the shore in the early mornings and late evenings, I watched the gulls migrate in traffic patterns across the skies while drifting on air currents. During these evenings, the sun receded into the horizon again and again and night beckoned. The fires along the beaches jumped and popped, exploding into the night’s cool and heavy air. These were nights filled with campfire smoke, hazy purples, murky blackish blues and clean, deep blueish greens that were bordered by horizons that seemed to stretch deeply. It is a darkness that at once retreats and pushes forward into the distance.
Thanks so much, Stephanie for sharing your experience with us! If you’d like to see more of Stephanie Clark’s work, please visit her website. You can also read my thoughts on the Call and Response series in this post, just in case you missed it!
I am always amazed at the way an artist’s mind will interpret a given subject. I believe artists “see” in certain palettes, even when looking at a thing that is obviously one color, the artist feels it as another. Such seems to be the way of Australian abstract painter Jo Davenport, whose expressionistic interpretations of landscape, instead of being literal regurgitations of a scene, are spontaneous bursts of color and mark.
As we transition from summer into autumn, these paintings remind me of how utterly changeable and temporal our landscape is. As branches, grow, then break, soil erodes, flowers seed, and light changes, a given scene will never be exactly the same as it is in one exact moment.
To see more of Jo Davenport‘s work, please visit her website.
All images are via the artist’s website.
As we get back into the swing of normal life following our week in the wild, I’ve been struck by the obvious artificiality that surrounds so much of our landscape. Plastic flowers where real should be, fountains instead of waterfalls. In their In Pieces series, photographer Dean West and Nathan Sawaya present highly stylized, manipulated representations of modern life.
Upon first glance, these may appear as simple photographs, just as that strip mall facade from a distance might appear to be a row of historic buildings. But on closer inspection, we see that these are carefully crafted tableaus combining West’s photography with Sawaya’s LEGO sculptures to create an unreal reality. ( click on each image to enlarge the photo and see the LEGO elements better ).
To see more from the In Pieces series, please visit the collection website. You can check out more work from Dean West here and Nathan Sawaya here.
All images via the In Pieces website.
With worries over the health of my mom, close friends, and myself ( I checked out fine, whew! ), it’s been an emotional summer. Not really the carefree season of years gone by. So Mr. F and I were really looking forward to unplugging and spending a week camping and hiking in Yosemite National Park. An escape to staggering beauty could not have come at a better time.
Simply taking time away from work, social media, and just the stress of every day life will have a renewing effect, but to be surrounded by an incomparable natural landscape, incredible in its beauty and yet struggling for its own survival, definitely puts everything into a new perspective.
These getaways allow for a resting of the mind and soul and an opportunity for Mr. F and I to really reflect individually and as a partnership on where we are and where we would like to be. Clarity comes, decision making is easier without distraction and passion for beloved pursuits are reawakened and reinforced. Every morning in Yosemite, we were awake with the dawn ( and sometimes before! ) excited for the adventure and inspiration the day would bring. Why can’t we rise to great each day as if there is adventure and discovery waiting?
We would lay our heads down each night and look up at the stars, exhausted yet satisfied that we’d taken full advantage of the day we’d been given.
By the end of our trip, we’d made goals for changes we’d like to see in our lives, a backing off from invasive technology and a renewed focus on physical, mental, and spiritual health. I personally came away incredibly inspired to dive deeper into painting and can’t wait to work through the amazing amount of artistic stimulation that I’ve felt since stepping foot onto Yosemite’s sacred ground.
All images by Artsy Forager.