I was raised in a Chinese Madurese family in Jakarta, Indonesia, where Indonesian textiles were part of casual everyday life. It was not until I left Indonesia to study in the US that I was able to gain a new perspective on the importance, meaning, and beauty of textiles, and the role they play throughout history on shaping and reflecting cultural and artistic influences on a community.
Through my academic studies and professional work in New York City and Los Angeles from the 1980s to the early 2000s, I entered into a community of preeminent textile specialists. There I had access to world-class textile museum collections where I learned to examine ancient textiles under a microscope to decipher woven structures and what kinds of looms, dyes, processes, and techniques were used in the creation of each textile.
In my early career, I focused on textile conservation and worked as a textile conservator at the Cooper Hewitt Smithsonian Design Museum in New York City. From there, my interests expanded, and I joined the Costume and Textiles Department at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art as an assistant curator. Afterward, I pursued a Ph.D. in art history at UC Berkeley to research depictions of textile patterns on stone and metal sculptures and temple reliefs in Java from the 8th to 15th centuries (Hindu-Buddhist period).
As part of my doctoral work, I lived in Leiden, the Netherlands, for three years, researching its great repository of ancient Indonesian arts and early colonial textile collections.
I founded the Tracing Patterns Foundation in 2018 with the vision of creating a community of international scholars to conduct research on traditional textiles both in the past context and in contemporary times.
In addition to overseeing the Tracing Patterns Foundation from Berkeley, California, I teach university classes in Indonesia, seeding the next generation of Indonesian textile and fashion designers to develop an appreciation and understanding of ancient and contemporary textiles.