Tuesday, June 24, 2008


Finally! We are ready to promote the Artist Workshops to the students of Stella Maris High School! There are a total of 4 Artist Workshops to be conducted from July to September in conjunction with this project. All the basic information about the workshops were gathered from the artists (Chuah Chong Yong, Amanda Heng, Au Sow Yee, Chan Yoong Chia & Teoh Ming Wah) and transfered to A3 size posters. Tay Sy and Chang Hwang brought all the posters and posted them on the notice boards at the atrium right next to the school canteen last Friday (20th of June 2008). The chosen location of the atrium is very strategic as it is where students often gather and hang out outside of their classrooms. We hope the colourful design of the posters will attract students' attention and create interest for them to sign up for the workshops, where they will get a rare opportunity to interact closely with practicing contemporary artists.

| ARTIST WORKSHOP 1 - Chuah Chong Yong |

| ARTIST WORKSHOP 2 - Amanda Heng |

| ARTIST WORKSHOP 3 - Au Sow Yee |

| ARTIST WORKSHOP 4 - Chan Yoong Chia & Teoh Ming Wah |

Second Phase of the Project : MEETING in JUNE

Our project is definitely requiring more of our time as we progress towards the dates for this exciting event. As all of us who are in the organizing team have a day time job from Monday to Sunday, the only possibility to meet up for a discussion is in the evening. Normally we would meet up for 3-4 hours. But for the last meeting, we broke the record. We had a really long meeting at Sau Bin's warm and cozy house in Cheras from 8pm-4am on Friday June 13th 2008. Even though our brains were pretty much fried when the clock pointed to 1am, we managed to drank some strong mocha, courtesy of Sau Bin, which kept most of us alert through out the rest of the discussion. Nevertheless, the outcome for the meeting was extremely productive. Many issues and matters were discussed in depth and taken care of at the end of the day.

As we enter into the second phase of the project, things are really picking up. Looking at our projected timeline which involves the completion of a long list of tasks, we realized that we need more brains and hands to assist us in managing the project. So we invited an additional member into our team, Phuan Thai Meng, who is also a member from RAP. At this stage of the project, we have moved from less of curating the show to more of producing and promoting the event. New responsibilities were delegated among the 7 of us :

Production Managers : Chai Chang Hwang & Wong Tay Sy
Financial Manager : Wong Tay Sy
Public Relations Manager : Yap Sau Bin
Exhibition & Technical Managers : Chong Kim Chiew & Phuan Thai Meng
Publicity & Design Managers : Foo Wei Meng & Candice Ng

Saturday, June 14, 2008


Following our week's stint of introducing to you various art insights, today we'd like to bring to you an eye-opening dream of Dave Eggers, (TED Prize winner 2008) which has much relevance to CAIS in both purpose and call.

Once Upon A School is a community initiative by Dave Eggers, determined to bring about positive change and communal support to public schools through programs catered specifically for each school's individual needs. The strength of this initiative is not in the programs itself but rather in the very act of a community coming together and working towards contributing back into the lives of its students. What started off as an after school tutoring program (826 Valencia) with professionals in the field contributing personal hours into tutoring students soon became a well received and appraised phenomenon. Quoting from the site, "The students come to 826 because it’s fun, it’s warm, it’s full of people who care — but who don’t HAVE to care. That is, the average students knows his teacher has to help with his schoolwork, and he knows his parents have to help. But there’s something very new and transformative about meeting a member of the community — a professional journalist, a radio disc jockey, a graduate student, an advertising copywriter, a software developer, a retired lawyer — and have that person give them 2-3 hours of undivided attention. Almost without exception, student achievement and understanding leaps when they are given this concentrated one-on-one attention. Teachers and parents love the help, and the students get to ask a hundred questions until they truly understand a concept."

Take a look at this talk by Dave Eggers, challenging the public to personally and creatively engage with local public schools. With spellbinding eagerness, he talks about how his 826 Valencia tutoring center inspired others around the world to do likewise.

We are truly excited with this movement that has started as CAIS Project with Stella Maris seeks to be a reflection of a similar cause. By initiating an alternative space that brings artist (click to view artist's list) who are professionals in their fields to come in closer contact with the students of a particular community and engage deeply with them, we hope to grant an opportunity for students to be exposed to contemporary art through the experiential learning of close interaction with artists.The significance of CAIS is valued in the method in which the next generation is reached, informed and educated about the importance of contemporary art.

In addition to this interaction, the project also introduces an exhibition unlike any other. By installing site specific works of local and foreign contemporary artist works at Stella Maris, the project sets an atmosphere and experience unlike that of a traditional gallery, but rather, a location where students get to ‘coexist ‘ with the artworks daily, allowing them to simply engage with the artworks on a regular basis in a familiar environment.

Do take some time with us as we journey to discover more and more of this community art's project's potential, one of which we truly believe has much calling for. At the meantime, do take a browse at this awesome community platform just mentioned above and find more insights on the direction we're heading. As we journey, it becomes more and more evident of how much a band of brothers we are across nations. Multiple ideas, similar cause.

Have a good read!

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

First Phase of the Project : PROJECT TIMELINE

The presentation for the CAIS Project video trailer went really well yesterday at Stella Maris High School. Based on our observation, everyone especially the students enjoyed watching the video very much. It was definitely a good starting point in launching the project, and definitely worth all the efforts that we had put in to make it happen.

Right now, our task is to gradually move towards the second phase of this project, which involves running the workshops, the production and the promotional aspects for the event. In order to better organize our tasks and keep track of the deadlines, a project timeline was drafted and printed out for easy perusal and reference. Somehow, it does look less daunting and more manageable when we put everything down on a piece of paper, albeit rather a huge one with the long list of tasks involved to run this project.

Monday, June 9, 2008


Here's presenting to you, the long awaited official CAIS Project video trailer! To all Stella Maris students and staff involved, we thank you sincerely for your willing participation. We encourage you to leave us a note on your thoughts at the widget on the right of this blog, it would be great to hear from all of you. If you'd like to link us up, do feel free to do so too.

So without further a due, have a nice watch and we look forward with anticipation as the dates grow nearer to the final exhibition.


On May 20th 2008, we made a trip to Stella Maris High School in the early morning. The purpose of this visit was to shoot a short CAIS Project video trailer at the school featuring some students and staffs based on a pre-determined story board. The finished video is to be presented to the students on the 9th of June 2008 during the morning assembly with the intention of promoting CAIS Project and its blog to the students. It will also be posted in this blog and in youtube.

It was a blast making the video with the students and staffs at the school! Questions that are relevant to the content of this art event (mostly related to the art works that will be exhibited in the project) were asked randomly to the interviewees. Some of the responses were funny and unexpected, some serious and conventional. For those who have yet to watch it, please check it out!

Khoo Eng Yow, who was the videographer and producer, did an amazing job with the video. We are very grateful and appreciate his collaborative effort in making the trailer the way that we have envisioned it. Much sincere thanks.

Spoiler Alert: The puppet character, code name "Miss Cun" was a fairly big hit with the interviewees. It's definitely not that common to have an undercover agent to penetrate into the school and investigate a secret project with a scope like this. There were a total of 17 suspects being discovered initially, but ONE person was successfully identified in the end. A Form One student by the name of...hmmm...maybe it's best for you to find out by watching the video.

Side Note: On the same day that we were shooting the video, the students at the school were having a fund raising campaign at the atrium. They were selling candies to raise funds for the victims of the cyclone in Myanmar. Paper cranes were also hung in the atrium as a manifestation of their blessings to the victims.

First Phase of the Project : CURATORIAL MEETING in APRIL

This time around, we had our curatorial meeting at Tay Sy's house.

It was already three months into the project planning, we were struck by how little time we had, seeing that the project was to be held at the end of August.

All of us who are involved in this project would really like to make this an annual program, but funding is a big concern. In order to run a public art program like this in Malaysia, private funding (such as art grant and sponsorship) is the only possible source of support. Yet, we are determined to make the event an insightful and memorable experience for the students at Stella Maris High School. Hopefully through this first attempt, it will successfully demonstrate to others the possibility of running an art program similar to CAIS Project in other schools, resulting a collective effort to create more awareness and appreciation of contemporary art among our younger generation in this country.


Margaret Martinez, the principal of Stella Maris High School was gracious to invite us for a dinner at the Mayflower Restaurant in Brickfields. During the informal meeting, we discussed more in depth about the project and updated her with the progress from our side. A long-time friend of hers, Marion D. Cruz, a Malaysian figure who is a prominent advocate for local art, was also present at the dinner. In fact, she was the one who brought the interest of the principal to our attention in the beginning.

Margaret Martinez, Principal of Stella Maris High School


Met up to discuss about the proposals submitted by artists at Old Town in Central Market.


An endorsement letter from the principal of Stella Maris High School was officially issued on the 25th of February 2008.

First Phase of the Project : FIRST VISIT TO SCHOOL

On a sunny Sunday morning (17th February 2008), we paid our first visit to Stella Maris High School with a few artists. The school is situated at Jalan Robertson, off Jalan Pudu, in the downtown area of Kuala Lumpur. A helpful and friendly school guard very kindly showed us around. We managed to look at the school compound, and located potential sites for artists to display or showcase their work. We also took many pictures and videos for future reference.


Art is very often associated with the application of creativity regardless of medium. Here we have an interesting talk from Vik Muniz explaining his artworks created using wire, threads, sugar and chocolate. He makes art from pretty much anything, be it shredded paper, wire, clouds or diamonds. Here he describes the thinking behind his work and takes us on a tour of his incredible images.

For more on his interesting works, do check out his personal site.

First Phase of the Project : THE BIRTH OF CAIS PROJECT

The idea for this project has sprouted sometime beginning of this year. It has been progressively developed with a very positive note since January.

After being approached by the principal of Stella Maris High School, Margaret Martinez, who expressed her interest in initiating an art project and event for the school with the intention of exposing students to contemporary art, we ( a team of 6 people who are passionate in promoting art educational project) decided to take this up and run with it! We figured this is something quite new in Malaysia, and seeing that there weren't many public art program similar to this being organized in the country---a sad situation from the lack of support from the government---why don't we take matters into our own hands and start doing something.

And thus, CAIS Project - "Contemporary Art in School Project" was born. Carried with it the hope of creating more opportunities to educate the younger generation about contemporary art in school.

Sunday, June 8, 2008


A really interesting take on art. Take a look.


In alignment with our desire to inform and bring about a heightened understanding and interest of contemporary art to students and their community, we will constantly feature a series of articles, videos, podcasts, profiles+works of various local and international contemporary artists that are on the cutting edge of the field. So do keep a look out for our Art Insights periodically.

As a first, here's a feature on Xu Bing, a Chinese artist who has lived and work in New York since 1990. "Xu’s art stems from an alienated relationship to language. His breakthrough installation, “A Book from the Sky” (1987), featured hundreds of beautifully bound books and giant scrolls that arched across ceilings and down walls. The documents contained 4000 unreadable characters -– a new language that Xu had created. The installation puzzled Chinese and international viewers alike. The Chinese approached the texts expecting to find legible writing, while non-Chinese viewers viewed the work as a comment on the artist’s ruptured culture. Xu insists that the project, like all his text-based installations, was not about his personal history at all. Instead, these works express his doubt about cultural authority on the larger level. In the gap that exists between the serious execution and presentation of the books -- which seem like authentic classical volumes -- and the underlying absurdity of the project, the artist points out the disconnection between official and private uses of language." |ArtandCulture|

Interestingly, how Xu Bing got about to this level of expression in his art owes it back to his childhood. The son of a professor and a librarian, he spent his early years surrounded by books that he could not read. His school years coincided with the Cultural Revolution, when he and other children were sent off to camps to learn Mao’s new official language, which was regularly changed to meet official doctrine. He returned home to his parents only to meet yet another language, now strange to him, and a new culture of control –- to instill discipline, his father made him copy classical Chinese characters every day. For Xu, these characters came to represent the forces of authority rather than a vital link to his ancient culture. As we believe that discipline precedes blessings, its evident that this stringent copying of Chinese characters brought about interesting observations for Xu and to present, a very deep understanding of its propriety to culture and art.

Do check this video out. Its a discussion of Xu Bing with Curator Wu Hong on the topic of his works.