Opposite Sides of The Globe Unite: Cultural Exchange Brings Together Indonesia and Colombia
On May 19, in a joint effort between the Consulate General of the Republic of Indonesia and the General Consulate of Colombia, the art, music and culture of both countries came together in a Cultural Exchange. The event was a fusion of Colombian and Indonesian influences to celebrate diversity and forge international connections, held at the Consulate General of the Republic of Indonesia in Houston. Henk Edward Saroinsong, Consul General of Indonesia and Miguel Lopez Mendez, General Consul of Colombia welcomed their distinguished guests and presented opening statements.
Guests enjoyed cocktails and a sampling of culinary delights from different regions of both countries with empanadas provided by Mi Pueblito Restaurant. There were a variety of appetizers including Pinchos from Colombia and Sate from Indonesia. Rich, flavorful coffees from Java and Central Colombia were also on hand.
The program featured an art exhibit of paintings by locally celebrated artist Nubia Gala and renowned Indonesian artist HANAFI, titled Colombia Indonesia. “People loved his paintings and the installation he created with the spices,” Gala said, “I was excited to have my paintings next to his.”
Dances from both nations were presented. There was a performance of traditional Balinese dances with their customary slow, precise and hypnotic movements. This was accompanied by Javanese music of the flute, bongos, saxophone and guitar. Christian Restrepo, an international award winning pianist with a doctorate in music played traditional Colombian music. Colombian dancers performed the historic Cumbia dance and Salsa dancing. Gala said, “The Salsa dancers got the audience excited but when the Indonesian Consul and a few others came out to dance the popular Indonesian Poco Poco, it was all one big party.”
The emphasis of the evening was a showcase of talent, arts and culture gathered under one roof. “The atmosphere was elegant and festive. Gala said, “The event was like a dream, it took us out of Houston on a trip to two exotic places from around the world. There was a sense of curiosity and friendship as people experienced the cultural interchange with one another.”
The Consuls spoke of the connection between the two cultures, the diversity and the similarities with a focus on working together. “It was an historical moment to unite us,” Gala said, “It was a night full of surprises.”
The Cultural Exchange culminated with the creation of two abstract paintings led by artists HANAFI and Nubia Gala. Set to music from both regions, the artists started with one large canvas each and began painting on stage. “We invited people in the audience to come and paint with us,” Gala said, “it was not an art demonstration; it was a symbolic artistic exchange.” The Colombian and Indonesian Consuls also took part in the painting. The finished paintings were then presented to the Consuls for display in the Consulates. HANAFI presented his painting to the Colombian Consul, Miguel Lopez Mendez and Nubia Gala presented her painting to the Indonesian Consul, Henk Edward Saroinsong.
Overall, the event was a big success, brought about in part by the efforts of Nubia Gala. Gala is an abstract artist based in historic old-town Katy. Her goal was to raise awareness and promote mutual understanding of both cultures while celebrating their similarities. “I wanted to enrich the knowledge of these diverse cultures for Houstonians,” Gala said, “I’m glad the Houston communities of these two countries that are dear to my heart got to know each other through their art, music and food and just had fun together.”
Other individuals who were instrumental in bringing about this cultural exchange are Henk Edward Saroinsong, Consul General of Indonesia, Bambang Setyobudhi, Head of Chancery/Consul of Information, Social and Cultural Affairs, Karbela Rachman Adam, Vice Consul of Information, Miguel Lopez Mendez, General Consul of Colombia, and Catalina Duque Camacho, Mission Diplomatica Assistant. Attendees included members of Houston’s 92 Country Consular Corps along with area political and business leaders.
Why Colombia and Indonesia? Nubia Gala was born and raised in Colombia and spent years travelling the world. “It was astounding to me that after visiting over 40 countries and living all over North and South America, I felt like I had arrived at home when I came to Jakarta.” Gala was astonished by the familiar feeling in Indonesian food, the friendly nature of the people, the open markets and colors surrounding her. “Humans are basically the same all over the world,” Gala shares, “we want to know about each other but, living in the suburbs, we forget how much fun it is to explore the different peoples of the world.”
It was in Jakarta that Gala met the abstract artist, HANAFI, only months before moving back to the United States. In that short time, HANAFI became her mentor and shared his studio with her. Inspired by his generous spirit and encouragement, Gala went on to become a highly successful artist in her own right.
Mayor Sylvester Turner one said, “If we work with one another, Houston can be a city that embraces diversity, culture and differences. That is our strength and opportunity.” Gala said, “I was delighted when I heard Mayor Turner say this because I feel the same way.”
Photos used with permission of Nubia Gala and Guillermo Diaz Photography
Painting Exchange with artist Nubia Gala, Consul General of Indonesia Henk Edward Saroinsong, General Consul of Colombia Miguel Lopez Mendez and artist HANAFI