Batak Textiles of Sumatra
Reviewing the Repertory

Sandra Niessen, Ph.D

Monday September 14, 2009

Krimsa Gallery
2190 Union Street, San Francisco (Tel. 415-441-7485)

Social Hour begins 6:30 PM;. Lecture starts at 7:15 PM

To launch our 2009-2010 season SFBARS takes a new approach and starts with a lecture on textiles from the Islamic culture of Sumatra. Sandra Niessen’s lecture will present the Batak weavers who make more than 100 design types. Scholars such as Mattiebelle Gittinger and Robyn Maxwell have claimed that traditional Batak textiles exhibit some of the earliest design and technical themes found in the diverse and culturally complex Indonesian archipelago.

In this talk Sandra will explain how the textiles are made up of layers of influences that have reached the Batak during the past two millennia. The tradition is changing rapidly; modern textile developments represent much loss but also some interesting gains.

Sandra will propose ways in which her new publication, Legacy in Cloth, might even influence the future of this once vibrant ancient tradition that is now undeniably in decline.

Sandra Niessen is a Canadian-Dutch scholar who obtained her PhD from Leiden University in 1985 for a thesis entitled "Motifs of life in Toba Batak texts and textiles." The theme of Batak textiles has been a red thread thoughout her career. She carried out field research several times in northern Sumatra. As a student of Rita Balland she has emphasized the importance of understanding weaving techniques in the analysis of Batak textiles.

Sandra was a guest curator and lecturer at the University of British Columbia and then shifted to the Department of Textiles and Clothing at the University of Alberta, Edmonton, on a two year post-doctoral fellowship. In 2004 she returned to the Netherlands to finish her latest book, Legacy in Cloth: Batak Textiles of Indonesia. Sandra is the author of nine books and dozens of articles.

Krimsa Gallery is located on Union street in SF and parking is difficult, but there is a parking garage two blocks before the gallery on Union. We will have a general show and tell for our members to show their pieces as is the SFBARS tradition.