The Jakarta Post, June 15, 2006
Art school opens opportunity to fresh talent.
Rita A. Widiadana, The Jakarta Post, Gianyar
Johan Wahyudi was previously an economics student at a prestigious university in Yogyakarta. His parents wanted him to take the helm of their lucrative business someday.
One day, he spent his school holidays on Bali roaming every corner of the art village of Ubud. Johan was delighted to see young artisans produce quality carving, painting, sculpture and a vast array of handicraft items. The village atmosphere touched the very heart of this young student.
There was no denying the dilemma between wanting to be a smart businessman with bright future or opting for a less "money-oriented" profession as an artist. Back home in Yogyakarta, Johan could no longer resist the urge to nurture his hidden flair for art.
"At first, my parents rejected my idea of leaving university ’for the sake of art.’ But, finally they recognized that it was not a proper place for me," Johan said. His parents even helped him find suitable art institutes both in Yogyakarta and Bali.
Early this year, Johan entered the Sasana Hasta Karya art school in the middle of green rice fields in Gianyar regency, some 45 kilometers northeast of Bali’s provincial capital, Denpasar. "I feel happy to be here with other students from across the country."
Johan, together with eight students from Bali, Kalimantan, Sumatra, Java and West Timor, is now enrolled at the school.
"We focus more on providing students with practical experience," explained French-born J-Philippe , head of the school, while working in his furniture workshop.
Developed by Catholic Priest Maurice Le Couture in l982, Sasana Hasta Karya was previously aimed at providing classrooms for talented and needy young people wanting to learn more about carving.
The school was funded by and was under the auspices of the Denpasar diocese. "But, we accept students from all religions, cultures and social backgrounds."
Jean-Philippe, a graduate of the prestigious art school Ecole Boulle in Paris, joined the school as a volunteer 15 years ago. "I fell in love with the school and asked my organization (Paris-based National Service Volunteers) to extend my posting."
He is now chairman of the school. Together with four Indonesian teachers and another volunteer, Nicolas Blocquaux, sent by a French Catholic association, J-Philippe showed rare commitment to the education of local art students.
"We charge students very low tuition fees. Some are sent by churches or other social organizations," he said.
In the first year, each student has to pay Rp 50,000 (about US$5.50) in registration fees, plus Rp 75,000 for board and Rp 150,000 per month for school tuition.
In the second year, students have to choose a major program and pay Rp 250,000 for registration; Rp 75,000 for board and Rp 300,000 per month in school fees.
Rosyianus was sent by East Kalimantan Diocese.
"I want to learn more about carving and will start an art workshop when I finish my studies here," Rosyianus said.
The school offers four types of program -painting, carving, furniture and machinery. Each takes four years to complete.
The first year of the program is general tuition comprising art theory and practice, as well as a general school curriculum such as Indonesian and English language lessons, civic studies and religion.
"There is a split of 30 percent on theory and 70 percent practical training," J-Philippe commented.
The school is open to junior high school graduates.
"We accepted an elementary school dropout who was very skillful and talented. We must be flexible enough to pick the right students for the school and we definitely need sponsors to finance bright students like them."
Donations often come from churches in Europe or elsewhere. "They mostly provide funds to buy expensive machinery, electric generators and other necessary equipment needed by students."
With such low tuition fees, the school has to work hard to raise more money to finance its operating costs. The school has opened a display room exhibiting and selling the work of both students and teachers.
A dining set, stylish wooden chairs, masks, sculptures, wooden boxes and a lot of paintings can be seen.
"We receive many guests and donations from abroad but only a few Indonesians know of our school," he said. Sales of the products are badly needed to pay teachers’ salaries and to run the school properly.
This month, the school is registering new students. "We are here not only to impart art knowledge but more importantly to shape their personal attitudes, mental and physical endurance, patience and persistence."
To do so, all students are required to stay at the school’s modest lodgings, living with friends from diverse backgrounds. In their spare time, they can grow vegetables, rice and raise cattle.
"The school aims to nurture tough, well-rounded artists rather than produce ’instant’ ones," said Jean-Philippe.