This November and December, visitors from throughout the Delaware Valley and beyond can see a raw space transformed into a colorful art show and craft bazaar when “From Bali to Bala” returns to Chestnut Hill Nov. 1-Dec. 24.
The seasonal pop-up shop, which I have curated for over 23 years, is located at 8532 Germantown Avenue. It’s set up to recreate an authentic Indonesian shopping experience and features tables and shelves, fabrics, bamboo, and lights that showcase glorious Indonesian handcrafts and treasures for sale, along with my own contemporary batik paintings.
Each item is handpicked during my annual trips to Indonesia. There, as a fluent Indonesian speaker, I meet with craftspeople, share tea, learn about their families, and buy crafts that are rarely seen in our country.
I am strongly committed to introducing Indonesia to a broader public and educating them about this land and people through special events, most of which are free. This year, “From Bali to Bala” will feature Indonesian dancers, a slideshow on Borneo and its orangutans and rainforest, a documentary about palm oil plantations and their impact on Indonesia’s natural beauty, an Indonesian cooking demonstration and feast, a Gamelan concert, a show of my own slides reflecting my years of travel to Indonesia, and much more.
As always, visitors can also help support several worthwhile causes. A special Indonesian dinner will help support dear friends, a Philadelphia family whose lives have been devastated due to a raid by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Also, a portion of the proceeds from the show will go to the Orangutan Tree Project, a nonprofit that works with other non-governmental organizations in Kalimantan (Borneo) to support the orangutans and their habitat, help offset the effect of fires in that rainforest, and engage young men and women in those communities to replant native trees.
I want to help people come to love Indonesia as much as I do. Like all countries, it has its challenges, but it is a special place that is at the core of my being. I know that not everyone can travel to Indonesia, but when you visit us at “From Bali to Bala,” you can feel transported without ever leaving Philadelphia. It will be worth the trip!
Laura Cohn is a Mt. Airy resident and longtime Co-op member.