Guest artists from Modero Dance Company will perform several Indonesian dances for us. Come by for a glass of wine, visit, shop, make new friends, and enjoy

In one of the final episodes of his popular video series, Parts Unknown, the late Anthony Bourdain visited Indonesia, bringing new audiences to this distant, complex nation half a world away from our own. He focused not only on its land, people, and food, but also on the complementary dualities of light and darkness, good and evil, and – most poignantly – life and death, as manifested in shadow puppet performances and the everyday life of the Balinese. Today, in Indonesia, these dualities are fresh: the impact of the September earthquake and tsunami on the Indonesian island of Sulawesi is still strong. Yet, the spirit of Indonesians – in their home country and ours – is resilient, and they are emotionally and financially supporting friends, family, and total strangers affected by the disaster.

In November and December of this year, residents of the Philadelphia region can learn more about Indonesia at From Bali to Bala, a visiting show and sale of crafts from that county.  They will have the chance to enjoy Indonesian food, experience its dances, hear its Gamelan music, watch a moving feminist documentary film about Sulawesi itself, and view a broad array of Indonesian crafts. Through these connections, bridges will be built to feel closer to this distant land, and in turn to financially support Sulawesi as it struggles to recover.

For over 30 years, Laura Cohn has adopted Indonesia as her second home, with deep connections there and in Philadelphia’s own vibrant Indonesian diaspora community. Beginning in 1988, this Chicago-raised batik artist lived and worked in Bali and Java for six years, and ultimately traveled to many other islands of the 13,000 in this archipelago nation. Soon after moving to the Philadelphia region in 1995, she started her visiting holiday show, From Bali to Bala, in her Bala Cynwyd home during the holiday season. As the show grew each year, it moved to Manayunk, and then took root in Chestnut Hill where it has returned  each year since 2010. Her landlord, the Chestnut Hill Business Association, and the local community have strongly supported her show’s annual migration, embracing the striking cultural experiences she brings to the neighborhood.

Starting with an empty storefront on Germantown Avenue, she transforms the raw space into a magical and colorful art show & craft bazaar with tables, shelves, fabrics, bamboo, and lights that showcase glorious Indonesian handcrafts and treasures for sale, along with her own contemporary batik paintings. Cohn, who now lives in nearby West Mt. Airy, says “I love creating an environment that is so intriguing you are enticed to come in and explore – and then, once inside, you feel transported halfway around the world.”

Most significantly, this year fully 10% of all sales will be donated to the non-profit Institute Mosintuwu in Poso, Sulawesi to help the locals rebuild at a time when such aid is particularly critical. Additional support will be provided to The New Sanctuary Movement to help immigrants gain access to justice here in the United States.  As Cohn notes, “In our small way, through our show’s fundraisers, outreach, and sales, we can all can join together and help those in desperate need, both in our country and in Indonesia, to rebuild their lives.”