Bainbridge Island Review


'Isnia - Symbols of Nature & Man' opens at The Island Gallery

May 3, 2013 · 10:24 AM

'Fire Flower' is part of the new exhibition “Isnia - Symbols of Nature & Man: A Journey of 40,000 Years” on display at The Island Gallery in May. / Photo courtesy of The Island Gallery

The Island Gallery presents “Isnia - Symbols of Nature & Man: A Journey of 40,000 Years” from May 3 through May 24 at the gallery.

ISNIA stands for the collaborative team of Agus Ismoyo and Nia Fliam, renowned for their intricate, nuanced and time-intensive textiles. They are widely acknowledged as the first artists in Indonesia to go beyond the boundaries of modern batik painting and extensively explore the medium of Javanese batik as contemporary textile art.

Ismoyo’s ancestors produced batik for the royal court of Surakarta in Central Java; Fliam was born in the United States and studied at the Pratt Institute, New York, traveling to Indonesia in 1983 to study batik, where she has lived since.  In 1985 they established the batik studio Brahma Tirta Sari (“Creativity is the source of all knowledge”) in Yogyakarta, Indonesia.

Embracing artistic traditions and philosophical ideas that span continents, Ismoyo and Fliam have conducted numerous workshops in Indonesia, Africa, the United States (including Bainbridge Island), and Australia, working in collaboration with Australian Aboriginals, Native Americans and Asian artists.

Their collaborative work in Australia, Africa and Indonesia has had the sponsorship of the Ford Foundation and the American Embassy in Indonesia.

One notable collaboration, with a group of Aboriginal artists from the Utopia Community in Alice Springs, Northern Territory, Australia, began in March 1999 and continued for more than two years, producing 20 large batik art pieces subsequently exhibited around the world, including a 2005 exhibit at The Island Gallery.

This series, along with the consistent quality and scope of their entire body of work, has garnered Ismoyo and Fliam critical acclaim for successfully exploring their own creativity while pursuing a broader understanding of the value, role and meaning of tradition in the development of  world culture.

Ismoyo and Nia explain: “Our world culture is, in fact, one, and has arisen from the strength of ‘budi’ or human intelligence, and the spirit of humankind motivates this intelligence. This spirit is the oneness or unity we speak of. In any creative work, an awareness of our position within its framework is of utmost importance.

"With this in mind, it is our commitment in our creative work to devote ourselves to the work of the spirit in exploring aspects of the heritage of our world culture and its role in the shaping of contemporary culture. At the heart of it our ancient cultural traditions are the roadmap of the future.”

The duo has exhibited extensively in Indonesia and at many prestigious locations around the world.

Most recently they were recipients of a Fulbright Scholarship, which brought them to Michigan in 2007-2008.

During this time they presented “Fiber Face”, a very well-received exhibition of their works, at the Textile Museum in Washington, D.C., where their work is part of the permanent collection. This exhibition has also shown at the Netzorg and Kerr Gallery, Richmond Center for the Visual Arts, Western Michigan University, Kalamazoo, Mich., at the Indonesian Embassy in Washington, D.C., on Bainbridge at The Island Gallery, and at the cultural center of Taman Budaya, Yogyakarta, Java, Indonesia.

The First Friday gathering will feature music by Peter Spencer & Friends.

The entertainment includes fiddler Sarah Comer and appearances by three of Spencer’s guitar students: JD Stahl, Natasha Stearns and Willa Jones-Irwin.

The Island Gallery is at 400 Winslow Way E., Suite 120.

For more information, call 206-780-9500 or visit www.theislandgallery.net.

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