Between November 4th and December 24th come for an authentic shopping experience and leave on a cultural journey.
20 Years of Introducing Indonesia to Philadelphia
Twenty years ago, there were no smartphones, a different Clinton was running for president, and – since Mark Zuckenberg was only 12 – Facebook hadn’t been invented yet. Also that year, a nice Jewish girl hosted her first show of imports from the world’s largest Islamic country, Indonesia, in her Bala Cynwyd living room. Today, that show – From Bali to Bala – has grown to become a seasonal retail fixture in Chestnut Hill. While the show’s name no longer reflects its original location, Cohn keeps her deep commitment to Indonesia: each year, she travels to small villages throughout that land, shares tea with artisans, buys their works, and ships them home to sell at her annual sale in Philadelphia during the holiday season.
The two-month show features a broad range of unusual items, ranging from serene Buddhas and flying goddesses to silver and beaded jewels, colorful fabrics, unusual musical instruments, exotic carvings, fun and imaginative toys, and much more. The sale is complemented by Laura’s own contemporary batik paintings. “I fell in love with Indonesia when I traveled there in the late 80’s and ended up with a job at a nonprofit, learning the language and creating a life there immersed in the local culture. When I speak about my friends and family back there, it is with a visceral sense of home, my beloved “heart” home of Indonesia. Likewise, here in Philadelphia, I’ve cultivated strong friendships with many in the Indonesia immigrant community (4,000 strong in South Philly) who jokingly say I am more Indonesian than they are. Even my American husband likes to refer to me as the only six-foot tall, blue-eyed Indonesian,” she says with a laugh.
But From Bali to Bala has always been much more than a show: it serves as a gateway to Indonesian culture. This year, she has packed her calendar with a broad range of fun, engaging, and transformative activities, including an opening night party with Modero Dance Company performing Indonesian dances; Gamelan Semara Santi, a Swarthmore College troupe performing Balinese music lead by Professor Tom Whitman; a screening of the documentary, “Children of Srikandi, depicting the struggles of gay women in Indonesia; the show’s 20th Anniversary Celebration, a ticketed festive dinner that also celebrates Modero’s fifth anniversary; a slide show of Laura Cohn’s life in Indonesia; and much more. In addition, as in the past, a portion of From Bali to Bala’s sales will support low-income Indonesians in need.
In the end, though, it is really about building bridges. “While I thrive on promoting the crafts and artisans of Indonesia” Cohn says, “my true passion is exposing Americans to a land many know little of. When someone walks out of my show, they may have bought a great holiday gift for a friend or themselves, but also they gained an unexpected appreciation of a distant world and, in turn, a more open heart. This is my greatest joy.”
2016 SPECIAL EVENTS
~ Opening Night Party ~ Saturday, November 5th 7 – 9 pm
Be our guest at our Opening Night Party, enjoy wine & snacks, visiting with old and new friends, and shopping for treasures. Our special featured artists from the Modero Dance Company will perform several traditional Indonesian dances. Don’t miss it!
~ Gamelan Performance: Music of Bali ~ Sunday, November 13nd 3 pm
Join us to hear Gamelan music from Bali play by Gamelan Semara Santi members and Professor Tom Whitman from Swarthmore College.
~ FROM BALI TO BALA 20th Anniversary Celebration! ~ Saturday, November 26th 7:30 pm
Sharing the limelight with Modero Dance Company’s 5th Anniversary, join us for a special evening of festivities with a catered Indonesian dinner, music, dance, film, and other treats to highlight this milestone for us and for the Indonesian community at large. Advance tickets required ($20 per person.)
~ Indonesian Film Night – Children of Srikandi ~ Friday, December 2nd 7 – 9 pm
Children of Srikandi is an engaging and inspirational documentary about gay women in Indonesia, the world’s largest Islamic society. The stories portrayed cover a wide range of experiences that reflect each woman’s particular circumstances. Taken together, they all show the power of transformation and the triumph of the human spirit.
~ Stag & Doe Nights in Chestnut Hill – Wednesday Evenings, November 30, December 7 , 14 & 21!
Be sure to join us for a drink, an Indonesian snack, and to shop as we celebrate a Chestnut Hill tradition.
~ Indonesian Travel Stories & Slides ~ Sunday, December 11th 5 – 6 pm
Whether you’ve visited Indonesia or haven’t yet made the trip, you can escape to Indonesia without leaving home. Through beautiful slides and compelling stories, Laura Cohn will share with you her 28 years of living, working, and loving Indonesia.