KUALA LUMPUR: The Islamic Arts Museum Malaysia is hosting an exhibition titled Ann Dunham’s Legacy: A Collection Of Indonesian Batiks until July 20.
The museum head of Curatorial Affairs Dr Heba Nayel Barakat says that Dunham had put together a collection of batiks in the 1960s and 1970s when she was living in Indonesia.
“Each piece in this exhibit has deep meaning. Dunham was not just a foreigner enjoying the vibrant colours in batik.”
“She chose to include pieces that were not expensive. Perhaps, there’s one with a pattern like a broken keris (Parang Rusuk pattern).
Commoners couldn’t use batik with this kind of pattern because they were reserved for the Royal Court.
"A specialist will tell you that all these other batiks are common man’s batik. They reflect the daily lives of the people around her.”
“Dunham was so committed to the process that she even tried to make some batik herself. She went beyond the craft and learnt about the people," says Heba.
Heba explins that Dunham saw how the people worked on batik their whole life and how much they loved it.
"She anticipated that these people who made batik could live in the community and produce their handicrafts without being exploited. She didn’t ask them to take their products to the city. Instead, she helped them in situ.”
Dunham is the late mother of US president Barack Obama. In the video clip Obama recalls how his mother used to wear and make the batik herself.
Read the full story on the collection in Life & Times on Sunday June 17.