Meet the Makers
Meet the Makers (“MtM”) was founded by a group of artists in a small pendopo building in Kemang in 2004. One of the artists was from the Babaran Segaragunung Culture House in Yogyakarta, and their Red Lotus program became the vehicle for the continuation of the MtM’s events until a strong core of the MtM community took over the organization and ongoing preparations for the MtM’s events. Their voluntary hard work, collaboration, and commitment have enabled the MtM’s initiative to continue developing and thriving. Those communities which have been particularily active in the organization of MtM are Borneo Chic, Pekunden, and Baragung.
The shared passion of artisans, designers, artists, and cultural organizations for Indonesia’s crafts has enabled MtM to grow and to thrive through the years. At the core of MtM’s establishement was the desire to bring together indigenous artisans and contemporary artists committed to utilizing traditional Indonesian craft techniques. Ever since the colonial period, crafts had been dismissed as being “low art”. It was MtM’s intention to unite artisans and artists under the umbrella of traditional techniques and to dismantle the wall that had divided crafts and art.
Fashion has always been integral in cultural traditions, and MtM events have featured fashion as craft as art. MtM fashion has been a proponent of “sustainable slow fashion”. In this important social movement, great care is taken to ensure that the artisans are honored as collaborators and that materials used are environmentally friendly.
Many artisans have been regarded as laborers, merely working for designers, rather than culture bearers, as has been their traditional role in society. This status has removed them from the sacred indigenous creative processes that are an inherent mechanism for the transmission of culture. MtM strives to afford artisans the recognition that is equal to artists as MtM’s believes it is essential for the continued sustainability of Indonesian craft traditions.
Crafts have been taught and passed down from one generation to another, thereby establishing their status as one of Indonesia’s treasures and securing their place in the noble cultural heritage of Indonesia. There is an abundance of crafts across the Indonesian Archipelago that includes textiles, mat weavings, jewelry, ceramics and much more. These crafts reflect the cultural identity, traditions, rites, and rituals of the respective areas where they originated. Truly, the vast wealth of Indonesian crafts is contained in the cosmologies and deep philosophies underlying their complex creative processes.
Sadly, many deep-rooted, fundamental philosophies and creative processes have been eroded in the important process of industrial development in Indonesia, which has put culture and cultural policy as a lesser priority. As a result, many of the younger generation in the Indonesian community no longer fully appreciate or understand these philosophies and creative processes. The irony is that, in the last few years, the global community has honored these cultural elements, and has recognized the importance of the intangible culture and ecology represented in handcrafted works throughout Indonesia for example in UNESCO’s honoring of Indonesian batik as an intangible cultural heritage of the world in 2009 and the World Craft Council’s recognition of Yogyakarta as the center of batik of the world in 2014.
MtM shows are scheduled annually, and on occasion have taken place twice during a year. Although usually held in Jakarta, they also have been organized in Yogyakarta, Bali, Singapore, the USA, India, and the Philippines. These shows are arranged with creative flair and with high standards of quality showcasing the aesthetics, along with featuring the significance and meaning of these objects as the main basis for presenting the products.
As all artisans require a market, there is an economic component to MtM that exists in tandem with its cultural vision. MtM’s overriding desire is that such presentations will create and enhance the community’s interest and appreciation of Indonesian crafts as art.
When visitors to the shows interact directly with artisans, they are afforded an enhanced, intimate experience that is far different to that of shopping for traditional crafts and arts in a store. MtM believes this experience promotes the rich cultural values and local wisdom of Indonesia.
Indonesian crafts as art have been proven capable of competing with products on a global scale. At the heart of MtM’s efforts is the desire to create a path for the continued regeneration of and understanding of Indonesian culture for coming generations. Each day during MtM events, numerous demonstrations, workshops, discussions, and films about the artisans are scheduled to amplify the experience of visitors. Traditional music performances further enrich the atmosphere.
Ultimately, Meet the Makers provides a forum for collaborative exchanges of knowledge, stories, and experiences between artists, artisans, and the general public.