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Women in the Suriname Art Scene 2

Women in the Suriname Art Scene 2


Women from all walks of live are flocking to have their different levels of art development, their own ideas and feelings on what brings them joy, painted on canvas or molded into the whimsical shapes of ceramics. MARY-ANN WOEI A Sioe uses the latter mentioned as her ‘canvas’ of choice as well as canvas. Working in a high passed business as financial advisor. A totally different world than practicing ceramics. “That’s why it’s so fascinating to sit with your hands in the clay in your spare time”. She started her art adventure in 2015 but ventured into clay by 2018 where she was inspired and taught by great artist Kim Sontosoemarto for 2 years. When Kim left to the Netherlands, the group continued their meetings in the gallery of another fellow ceramist preserving this dynamic. “That is even more important for exchanging knowledge”.


Visiting the Nationale Kunstbeurs were her first interactions with Art which she often visited with her father. “The art fair was an annual outing with my dear father who gave me the space to walk around for hours to admire the works of Soeki, De Vries and others. The experience and appreciation of art originated there”. Her art is a combination of wood or paverpol. “I don’t have a set theme especially with ceramics. I produce what flows from my hands at that moment. I am inspired by music, natural materials and feminine forms. For example, the bark of the coconut tree can be used to process the texture in the headscarves and clothing of my figurines. Anything can inspire, if you take the time to feel and see the potential of materials”. MARY-ANN says that clay is a very versatile material which offer the possibility to make utensils (pots, crockery) and even tiles into artistic works. “It‘s the material that forces you to think beyond borders. In addition, each firing session (to bake the ceramics) is an exciting process”. The product is handmade and cannot be duplicated in shape or color combination, because the end product depends on the followed firing curve, type of glazes, oxygen reduction and other factors. She also makes the wonderful mix of canvas, bringing painting and ceramics together. A multidisciplinary burst of feelings and colors.

TIARA SPALBURG works as a freelance Concept Designer under the name Atelier Monday.  “As a concept designer and artist, I can use my technical design knowledge, to interest in people and creativity’.

TIARA SPALBURG has just recently completed her masters Industrial Design Engineering at the TU Delft. At the moment she is also busy writing a conference paper about her graduation project and as a result she will stay in the academic world for a while.

TIARA moved from the Netherlands to Suriname when she was 11 where here love for art grew.

“In this new environment and exciting time I needed an outlet. The warm Surinamese art immediately appealed to me and the accessibility that Surinamese art and its artists offered made me want to create myself. The travels I made later increased my love for art, because the new places inspired me endlessly and I found it interesting to discover the local culture partly through art.

I have been drawing, painting and crafting for as long as I can remember. When I came to live in Suriname in 2008 and I started taking real lessons for the first time, painting took on more serious forms for me. Although I sometimes take a break from painting or have to take a break due to busier periods, I have never stopped creating. (And I don’t intend to! :D)

I started my art classes at the age of 12 at the Nola Hatterman Institute, where I learned the basic techniques of drawing and painting. After that I spent my Saturday mornings for years at Sabine Ensberg as part of Studio Young Art. Although she didn’t call these sessions lessons and left her students completely free, she taught me to discover my own style and work with different materials. The technical drawing lessons I received as part of my studies have also played a major role in the development of my work.

I prefer to work with acrylic on canvas. Acrylic suits my dynamic (also intense and wild), layered way of painting and gives me the space to play with color. I mainly painted what I saw and experienced, which often consisted of emotions, people and landscapes of the journeys I make. Lately that has evolved into painting what I feel, which manifests itself in more abstract works. Although, in almost everything I make, the Surinamese nature and warmth do find a way to express themselves.

I think women in every sector, especially in the arts, deserve more attention and recognition. Whether it is subtle, intimate art full of emotion and depth or bold and extravagant work, women have a unique voice that contributes to the art world and needs to be heard. One of my favorite artists at the moment is Jade Fadojutimi, a young British woman of color”.


“Every vacation my mother would make me choose an activity in the vacation. There was no time for sitting around the house. Amongst the many activities – swimming, baking lessons and others – I ended at Nola Hatterman Vacation Drawing project. It was so much fun”.  She asked her mother to enroll onto the Art school but after three months the attention was scattered. However for SANCHA SULLIVAN, who works in the educational field, going to exhibitions was still on top of her list of favorite social activities. When she was she was in het final classes at the teacher training college the drawing teacher noticed her extra talent and advised her to take extra lessons at AHKCO to study visual arts more in depth. There she developed the skills and besides her regular school homework, she experimented with lots of different materials and paints.

SANCHA prefers working with acrylic watercolor. “My themes then were very much based on a fusion of culture, nature, symbols and the spiritual. But time moves on and life brings a lot, but also takes something from you, which brings me to the point where I approach things differently. Living more and more from the inside out. Nature is and will always be present, but now the spiritual and working with symbols comes into its own”, the artist explains her work. The paint almost seems to be floating over her canvas. As symbolism drives the onlooker to keep staring at the painting trying hard to find meaning in the many figures and forms.  The artist sometimes starts with a picture, photo or an event that has occurred. “I take elements out of that and start sketching. In sketch, place all shapes and symbols that I feel make a good whole. Then I transfer that to my canvas. I let the desired colors run on my canvas. However, this happens in layers”. It is all a very delicate painstaking process to make her own very specific works of Art. Some of her painted works have incorporated a piece of ceramics added.