Balancing Act

Group Exhibition:
Anisa Abdullah
Marionne Contreras
Nor Tijan Firdaus
Tetriana Ahmed Fauzi

18th June – 21st July 2024

Core Design Gallery @ SJCC Gallery

*Click on images to zoom in

Words from Curator- Scarlette Lee

In recent years, there has been a growing interest in showcasing exhibitions featuring women artists in biennales, art fairs, and institutions. These exhibitions often explore the female experience and highlight women’s roles in art history and contemporary practice. From my own vantage point as a female gallery owner balancing a career and family life, I wanted to bring a unique perspective to our showcase, “Balancing Act.” This exhibition aims to celebrate the narratives of female artists who are not only passionate creators but also devoted mothers and partners. It seeks to explore the intricacies of managing a thriving artistic career alongside the joys and challenges of family life.

The themes of this exhibition include Empowerment in Diversity, where women from different cultural and societal backgrounds are highlighted to showcase their strength and resilience. The theme of The Feminine Spirit emphasizes abstract and symbolic interpretations of femininity, both spiritual and earthy. Art and Social Change, the third theme, explores the role of women in activism and the influence of their actions on societal norms and values.

“Balancing Act” offers a profound exploration of the multifaceted experiences of female artists who navigate the complex interplay of artistic passion and family life. Through the diverse themes of empowerment, feminine spirit, and social change, the exhibition presents a rich tapestry of narratives that celebrate women’s resilience and creativity. Each featured artist brings a unique perspective, reflecting their personal journeys and the broader societal roles they inhabit.

Marionne Contreras’s work challenges rigid categorizations, highlighting the complexity of self-identity. Anisa Abdullah’s collages embody the love and perseverance derived from motherhood, while Nor Tijan Firdaus’s use of e-waste underscores the strength of women in adversity. Tetriana Ahmed Fauzi’s piece invites viewers to see beyond the physical and perceive the enduring inner aura.

As we reflect on these powerful artworks, we are reminded of the strength, creativity, and unwavering spirit of women. “Balancing Act” is not just an exhibition; it is a celebration of the intricate dance that female artists perform daily, balancing the demands of their art and their loved ones. This showcase affirms the vital role of women in shaping both the art world and society at large, inspiring us to appreciate the diverse and dynamic contributions they make.

Anisa Abdullah

These three artworks represent my daily life journey as a woman, daughter, wife, and mother. They depict scenes of my little princess, my daughter Qayla, who reflects who I am today. This small child has shaped me into a stronger person, a better version of myself, and taught me patience through all obstacles. As a woman, wife, daughter, and artist, my palette consists of papers—cutting, tearing, and gluing them into intricate collages. Each detail creates shapes, texture, line, and form until the final artwork emerges. These bits and pieces of paper are like fragments of love in my heart, the love that keeps me strong and moving forward despite life’s challenges. I believe that success comes to those who persevere. Each time I combine these little parts, I am reminded of the Greatest Almighty and my parents, grounding me and reminding me to be grateful.

Qayla Amra, my precious daughter, has been with me throughout my journey since she was a baby. Through ups and downs, I have learned to manage my time for both work and family. I chose collage because it is complicated and time-consuming, embracing the beautiful journey of each step. This journey documents the ups and downs of my life, the struggles, hardships, tears, sweat, laughter, and love.

Motherhood has matured me in ways that art alone never could have. Qayla is my strength and inspiration in daily life. This artwork reminds me of the struggles and sacrifices of my mother and all women managing their time for work and family while caring for their children. The situation in Gaza breaks my heart, and I cannot imagine the pain of a mother losing her child. The words in this artwork represent a child’s true character—innocent, loving, and pure-hearted, needing our guidance.

I am amazed at how women manage and divide their time between work and family. Through Qayla, I have learned the meaning of life, love, and learning from my mistakes. I see calmness and hope in her eyes. In the collage where Qayla is holding a colorful umbrella, it symbolizes how she brings color to my life as a woman, mother, and visual artist. Each artwork is not just a piece of art but a testament to the love, strength, and perseverance that define my journey. The layers of paper in my collages represent the layers of my experiences and emotions, each contributing to the final masterpiece of my life.

In essence, these artworks encapsulate the essence of my life’s journey, depicting the profound impact of motherhood and the unwavering support of my daughter, Qayla. She has been my muse, my strength, and my guiding light, inspiring me to push through challenges and embrace the beauty of life’s complexities.

Marionne Contreras

“Portrait of an Artist as a Mother as a Universe as an Egg,” a mixed fiber and fabric tapestry, employs tufting, sewing, quilting, and embroidery techniques. Inspired by Hildegard von Bingen’s “The Universe in the Shape of an Egg,” it portrays the self not as singular identities like artist, woman, or mother, but as a complex miscellany of roles, attributes, and peculiarities.

In this portrayal, I envision myself as encompassing many layers and dimensions — daughter, bearer of life, both receptive and resistant to change — reflecting the dualities of creation and destruction, love and anger, impulsiveness and calculation, youth and the inevitability of aging. This echoes Hildegard’s belief in a balanced divine that is both feminine and masculine.

“Portrait of an Artist as a Mother as a Universe as an Egg” challenges the simplicity of conforming to predefined categories and emphasizes the importance of personal interpretation and understanding of existence. It mirrors Hildegard’s belief in living in a world interpreted independently rather than passively accepting pre-established narratives.

Hildegard von Bingen’s “The Universe in the Shape of an Egg,” featured in her compendium “Scivias,” depicts the universe teeming with unstable, sometimes turbulent energies, alongside tranquil, potent wellsprings of life, all contained and regulated by a serene “shell” of an egg. My work utilizes this vision as a foundation to present the self as the universe, and the universe as the self.

Daughters of Dirt is a series of works that transcend configuration. My recent works on form are more of movement and potential rather than static existences of shape. They are entities that could take space in whichever way they physically can. Daughters of Dirt is a yarnwork, in which rug making techniques are used as a means to create images of texture.

I am keen to take inspiration from forms found in nature, and forms that might exist in its domain. Daughters of Dirt is borne of nature’s lush and feminine vitality, which we are too familiar with we often put it at the back of the shelf, and when life becomes too urban, we dig it out and turn to it less like a mother but more like our own personal concubine.

Nor Tijan Firdaus

As a mother and artist, I often find myself torn between two worlds. My studio is a battleground where I juggle the demands of motherhood with the pursuit of creativity. Yet, I am constantly reminded of the women in Rafah who are fighting for their lives in a war zone. Their struggles serve as a stark reminder of the beauty and strength inherent in everyday motherhood.

The watermelon, a metaphor for Palestine, holds special significance for me. It represents the sweetness and resilience of the women living there. Despite the immense challenges they face, they continue to grow and thrive, much like the watermelons. My art, crafted from e-waste, is a testament to the power of creativity and resilience in the face of adversity. It is also a reminder that even in the darkest of times, there is always beauty to be found.

I hope that my art can serve as a small reminder of the beauty and strength present in everyday motherhood. This show is not just about me or my art; it is about the power of women coming together to support one another. It is about the hope that we can all hold onto, even in the darkest of times.

Tetriana Ahmed Fauzi

Departing from the characteristic of floral-inspired pieces of work that derive from feminine traits and creative escapism, this piece gives the impression of an aura. Each person exudes an aura; most often, we focus on the physical properties of a person. However, some people’s inner personalities transcend what we see or perceive. We must try to look beyond the physical properties and see with our hearts. In this piece, flames flicker inside despite the burnt facade. A mother nurtures, and artistic pursuits also demand mothering attention. These efforts require negotiation of time, energy, and space, especially when combined with other responsibilities a mother must uphold. Sometimes these sacrifices can leave scorching marks, but the flames of passion still flicker, waiting for their time to be ignited when creativity arrives.