Thursday, April 26, 2007

Year Two in the Life of the Borderline

Karen Network for Culture and Environment (KNCE), Karen Women’s Organisation (KWO) and Women’s Education for Advancement and Empowerment (WEAVE) recognised the need to have a shared marketing space for women’s organisations from Burma and ethnic minority Thai villages along the Thai-Burma Border, to support this need in June 2004, the Borderline Women’s Collective officially opened.

In July, 2004, the Borderline Management Committee, comprised of representatives from each of the women’s organization members and the Shop manager, recognised that the upstairs space of the Borderline would be a nice venue for an art gallery and began to solicit artist friends to hang their work in the Gallery. In August the physical space of the Gallery was developed and an Artist Committee was created to insure that the new Gallery was organized to benefit all of the artist members. The Borderline Gallery held its first solo exhibition in October 2004.

First International Exhibitions
Borderline artists and women’s groups were invited to exhibit at the Vidya Gallery in Seattle, WA, USA. In order to support our curator, Cynthia, to travel with the works to represent the artists, Borderline had 2 fundraisers. The first fundraiser was in partnership with Sandy Shum an artist and friend of the Borderline, who dedicated a percentage of her profits from her exhibition in July also at Vidya Gallery towards Borderline’s Exhibition. The second fundraiser was at the Borderline Gallery in August where artists exhibited the works that would be traveling to Seattle and friends bought tickets to attend and also have a chance to win a work of art. The fundraiser was very well attended and Borderline’s efforts contributed greatly to the costs of the exhibition.

Artist Workshop August, 2005
Artist created their own biographies including their education, their experience exhibiting, and the nature of their work.

Homa Dima/Here and There October 1-30 2005 Vidya Gallery, Seattle, WA and October 9-23, 2005 Pendulum Gallery, Vancouver, BC

The artists reflected their ideas about resettlement in the two bodies of work (over 60 works in total) they created to exhibit and sell in exhibitions in Seattle and Vancouver. The women’s organisations of the Borderline also exhibited and sold their finest hand work. Cynthia along with Ton and Kristen spend the month of October meeting communities of people from Burma and learning about their situations, presenting about the work of the Borderline and the situation of artists and women’s groups along the border and visiting community art galleries and fair trade shops. Borderline also spoke at the University of British Columbia on a panel focused on Burma, held at the Southeast Asian Studies Department. Borderline also showed a video of the artists and women’s group members as they are not able to travel to the US. The interviews and pictures of the Borderline highlighted in the video created by Peter Stannard enabled people in Vancouver and Seattle to meet the people of Borderline. Ton videoed both exhibitions in Seattle and Vancouver so artists and women’s groups could see their work exhibited and appreciated.

Borderline received generous support for both exhibitions. In Vancouver, the Borderline was supported by the Burma Round Table Vancouver, Inter Pares, the Pendulum Gallery and a very good friend of the Borderline Rebecca Wolsack who organized the exhibition and accompanying programme. Printing costs for all publicity, costs for hanging and matting contributed by Jane Wolsack as well as all opening night expenses were all donated. On the opening night in Vancouver, Borderline was joined by Karen Connelly who read from her novel (insert) about Burma as well as a member of Vancouver Burma Roundtable, who shared his experience resettling to Vancouver from Burma. In Seattle, Vidya Gallery also supported the Borderline by contributing to expenses for the exhibition including publicity and hanging. The manager of Vidya and another very good friend of the Borderline, Debi Goldman housed and support Cynthia, Ton and Kristen for the entire month of October.

All most every artist sold one or more works and most of the handicrafts of the women’s groups were sold

Design Workshop
There was a 5-day design workshop attended by 12 participants representing 6 women’s groups. The women’s groups continue to create new products including the Lahu Women’s Organization (LWO)who are now using pieces of vintage weaving from traditional clothes to make new bags, KNCE who are making a new woven wrap skirt that fits customers of al sizes and the Karen Women’s Organization (KWO) using new weaving techniques in their new shapes and sizes of bags.

BWU Women’s Tea Shop opens
Borderline and the Canada Fund supported the Burma Women’s Union (BWU) to open a tea shop for migrant women. The initial response to the Tea shop was very positive. It became a place for migrant workers to gather, share information and relax. However the Tea Shop was forced to close because of arrests of migrant workers who were then too scared to leave their factories or homes to visit the tea shop. Borderline and BWU hope that in the future when the situation is different the shop can re-open.

Five Brothers AugustCucil, Kennedy, Poe Da, others? created an exhibition of charcoals, watercolours and acrylics made by brothers on both sides of the border…

New Beginnings DecemberIn an effort to begin 2006 with new ideas and renewed energy, there was a joint exhibition of all Borderline artists.

Reflections at the end of 2005
The Women’s Collective had a representative from KNCE interning with the Shop and in the months before the Lahu Women’s Organisation also had an intern for 3 months.

The Gallery had its second intern, overseeing all aspects of the Gallery as well as working with the artists, holding meetings etc.

Any new books or publications?

KNCE changed its name to the Tak Border Child Assistance Foundation (TBCAF) and the project focused on supporting women’s income generation along the border is now named Chimmuwa, after the long white dress worn by unmarried Karen girls.

4 Steps Forward JanuaryArtists from Myawaddy…

Tea Garden Opening and International Women's Day Exhibition

Women of Burma 2 March - 16 March 2006Sein Sein Lin and Chow Mi Ain in celebration of International Women’s Day had an exhibition to exhibit their work…various aspects of women in watercolour, acrylic and charcoal…

Sein Sein Lin was also officially welcomed as Borderline’s new Curator.With the support of the Canada Fund for Refugees, Borderline unveiled its Tea Garden with a celebration of food and dance. The space had been developed with the hands of many friends to create a quiet place to relax, meet with friends and enjoy food from the region. On the opening night, Bo Bo and Mo Mo, Borderline’s two new Tea Garden staff, prepared traditional tastes from Burma to be sampled from its menu of drinks, salads and snacks. A traditional Burmese dancer helped make the night even more lively for the over 100 visitors who attended the opening.

Dancing Colour April……
Bo Bo and Tin Ko Ko Oo

MY STORY April 20-May 4, 2006
Borderline hosted its first outside exhibition of photographs taken by members of Karen Youth Organisation (KYO), Kyaw Kyaw Oo, Noman, Sally Wah, Heller Htoo and Ser Lweh Htoo…the works were for show and appreciation and not for sale…

Vermilion with Warming Flow May 4-17,2006
Borderline welcomed Min Thiha Mon an artist from Yangon and friend of a Borderline member to exhibit his works of watercolour. It was the first exhibition, highlighting the work of an artist from Burma who is not a member of the Borderline.

Community Space
Mural of Borderline - Designed by Nyan Soe and painted by many hands of Borderline artists and outside artists, Borderline’s side wall is now a colourful depiction in Pagan style of aspects of the Borderline.

Life Drawing Classes - Every Tuesday night, artists of the Borderline and those who are interested gather with a model, charcoal and paper and draw with their eyes.

Borderline is please that people in the community are utilizing the Tea Garden for meetings, tea breaks and going away celebrations. After the initial opening in March, April and May proved to be difficult for the space as early rains and a leaking roof caused the Tea Garden to have to close for more construction. We are thankful to those who have been supportive throughout this challenging time.

Borderline 2nd Year Birthday Party, July 6, 2006

Exhibition, Art Auction, Fashion Show and Cultural Performance…and Fundraiser

All of the artists of the Borderline have donated 2 pieces of art to be sold to support the activities of the Borderline and the women’s organisations as well as the artists donated handicrafts and art to be auctioned as well as given away in a lottery. Artists and representatives from the women’s groups put on a lively fashion show, highlighting the handmade items in the shop. Healthy herbal drinks and salads were prepared by the Tea Garden and people bought tickets to attend this event and also have a chance to win a prize in the lottery.

Future Plans

Gallery-Continued drawing classes, exhibitions/artists come to the Borderline and Borderline creates has exhibition opportunities in other places in Thailand and abroad, creation of art cards

Tea Garden is developing cooking classes as well as a cook book with foods from along the border.

The women’s collective plans to involve more women’s groups as well as development of a Borderline Line of products to support activities

More community activities including evenings of music and dance as well as movie screenings

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