The Jakarta Post
Bandung-based fashion art designer and contemporary artist Tiarma Dame Ruth Sirait often presents visually provocative thoughts in her works by constantly questioning the conventional wisdoms of both the east and the west. (instagram.com/tiarmasirait)
Bandung-based fashion art designer and contemporary artist Tiarma Dame Ruth Sirait often presents visually provocative thoughts in her works by constantly questioning the conventional wisdoms of both the east and the west.
In December, she received the Excellent Skills Award from the mayor of Nowon city in South Korea for her participation in three international arts events — the 24th Seoul International Art Festival, the fifth World Youth Art Festival: Window, Part I exhibition and the sixth World Youth Art Festival: Window, Part II exhibition.
Held in December, the three events were hosted by the World Culture Artists Association, Inc. (WCAA) and the management of the International Creative Artist Association (ICAA). WCAA founder and president Lee Bosuk said the exhibitions provided an opportunity to enjoy art and to explore themes such as human dignity, environmental preservation, demilitarization and transcending borders and race.
Proudly wearing a batik creation she called Koreatik, a portmanteau of “Korea” and “batik,” Tiarma said appearing in the international arena was not always easy as artists would have to interweave artistically with other cultures.
“The idea behind my paintings is the process of cultural interaction, where I transport my culture and transform it in relation to other cultures that I have come across in different countries and in different forms. My personal intention is to create a contemporary style of batik, which can be used as part of the cultural ‘transporter’ concept.”
To develop what she calls global art, Tiarma, or Ama as she is called by her friends, blends artistic language with material fiber to build a symbolic communication language. “Our traditions need to be treated with careful attention; not just preserving them, but imbuing them with life in the present-day context so they will have meaning to the current global art horizon,” she said.
“I just adopt the basic patterns, as I feel it is my duty as an artist to transform it into a contemporary piece that can be appreciated by the public across continents.”
Ama’s journey in fashion art has earned much local and international recognition. She has participated in more than 250 exhibitions, both domestic and overseas.
Born in 1968, Ama is a graduate of art and design at the Bandung Institute of Technology (ITB), majoring in textile design.
“Initially I wanted to study fashion, but because at that time there were no fashion schools that offered an undergraduate degree, I took textile design,” she said, adding that she never regretted the decision because her major taught her to better understand fabric.
Ama later got a bachelor’s degree in fashion design from RMIT University in Melbourne, Australia, and earned her master’s degree in fashion and textile design from the University of Borås in Sweden.
For her, fashion art is actually more interesting than fashion design because it is an original idea, rather than mass-produced item.
“I don’t have the burden of worrying whether it will sell or not, though afterwards I am a little disconcerted about who would buy the artwork. But I feel happy because of its achievement of ideas and manifestations,” she said.
She believes that art and fashion are very closely related because fashion is what we wear on our body and it represents the person who is wearing it. Meanwhile, art is a story about life, something that originates from the person who invented it. That is why each designer has their own respective outlook on art, she said
The youngest of four, Ama comes from an art-oriented family, where both her parents and siblings are all art lovers.
“My mother is German, a selftaught painter. She does mostly classical paintings and plays the violin, and she also teaches German at Goethe-Institut. My father, as any other Batak, is a good manortor [traditional Batak dancer], and he also likes to sing.”
She said her parents enjoyed watching their children and grandchildren’s art exhibitions, and often offer their thoughts, suggestions and critiques.
Her eldest sister, Marintan Sirait, mostly does art performances, installations and paintings on paper, while her brother, Pintor Sirait, is one of the top Indonesian contemporary artists, focusing on sculpture. He works mostly with stainless steel. Her other brother, Martua Sirait, although not an artist, always makes sketches in his sketchbook of places he visits.
The combination between art and fashion not only results in unique work, but also public appreciation. Ama said shopping malls, where commercial fashion designs were sold, could benefit from fashion art since it could be used as aesthetic elements or art objects.