Winnie Sidharta is a painter based in Queens, New York. Born and raised in a minority Chinese community in East Java, Indonesia, Winnie eventually relocated to the United States in 2010. She studied painting in Indonesia and in Beijing, China, where she lived and worked as an artist before moving to the United States to pursue a graduate degree in Painting and Drawing. She received her MFA from The Ohio State University and later taught in the Painting and Drawing Department before settling in New York City.
Winnie’s formative years were set against a complex cultural background— a multi-ethnic and multi-lingual society imbued with religious pluralism— that shared an awareness of the long history of colonialism and the many revolts against it. She experienced directly and indirectly the fragile socio-political systems that manifested in the nation’s post-colonial search for identity. This took the form of the eradication of ethnic and religious minorities during her upbringing. As a recent U.S. citizen, Winnie examines the experience of immigration and the kind of outsider complex it produces. This force is ever-present in her work as she continues to revisit her roots and build her identity as an artist.
Winnie uses fragments to create meaning and to guide her methods of working, thinking, and re-assembling identity in a multi-layered and deeply personal way. Her paintings and collages are a representation of selfhood within the paradoxical realms of visibility and invisibility, repetition and difference. Inspired by the highly vigorous and refined textile traditions within Javanese vernacular style such as batik tulis — most of which are executed by women — the patterns in her work evoke a similarly organic and living quality balanced somewhere between the decorative and something more evocative. She explores the nostalgia of colors and temperatures, structured by camouflage-like patterns and disruptions of edges and borders, which signify time, memory, landscapes, and bodies. Her collage offer an interpretation of identity through the language of painting; a language that comes from her personal experiences of living in a diaspora, rediscovering identity, and learning to inhabit two worlds at once: the present and the past, internal and external, microscopic and macroscopic. In these works, she find an association with a body that she has become, something that is both inside and outside of the margins, a manifestation of that which is other.