When President Obama’s mother, anthropologist Ann Dunham, moved to Jakarta in the late 1960s after marrying Indonesian Lolo Soetoro, she fell in love with batik. The millennium-old textile art and craft—created using wax-resist dying—bewitched and enchanted her so much so that she collected over 40 rare pieces during her five years in the capital city. Dunham’s private collection—which includes traditional sarongs and other items from the Yogyakarta, Java, the birthplace of Indonesian batik—is now touring the country.
Two Ladies Found A Culture in Cloths: Barack Obama’s Mother and the Indonesian First Lady’s Batiks, presented by the Consulate General of the Republic of Indonesia and Obama’s half-sister, Maya Soetero Ng, opens in New York City tonight with a gala celebration at The Plaza Hotel followed by a special exhibition this week (July 21-24) at the Indonesia Embassy in New York. In August, the exhibit moves to the Textile Museum in Washington, D.C. (Aug. 9-23).