Artist Personal Notes, 2021:
I found an article entitled “We are Melanesian Women, We are Here, and We are Beautiful!” (In Indonesian: Kami Perempuan Melanesia, Kami Ada, dan Kami Cantik!) from magdalene.co. The article tells us that up until now, there is still a lack of representation of Melanesian women in the Indonesian popular media. And once these Melanesian women earn their chance to get the spotlight, it's more often than not a lackluster. These conditions have been shaping our perception of the Melanesian women of Indonesia and more importantly, their perception of themselves.
The article states that many Melanesian women in East Indonesia straighten their hair to meet the beauty benchmark they perceive as well as to boost their own confidence. Straight hair is somewhat seen as a symbol of civilization because it "shames" Melanesian women about the “backwardness” that has pinned them down all this time.
It crushed my heart -- and the article has since haunted me for days.
So through my illustration I try to reimagine Melanesians as a celebrated part of our modern culture. I illustrate these women as inspiring popular figures in magazine covers. I don't know who still buys magazines these days but a feature in the cover of a magazine still embodies a sort of power in our current pop culture.
It’s more of a blueprint than a statement. It’s an invitation for everyone to imagine and participate in building something that is closer to the “beautifully diverse” society which we always claim to be.
Thank you, magdalene.co, and specifically Meike Lusye Karolus who wrote her piece of thought and heart in the article.
PS: It looks similar to Vogue’s challenge. 😂✨