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Make art of life
Nola Hatterman

In 1949 Nola Hatterman (1899-1984) painted the image of a Piëta on a canvas entitled ‘The Black Jesus’ Descent from the Cross’. Nola Hatterman’s life articulates her involvement and her contribution to awareness and appreciation of one’s own ethnic and cultural beauty identity. This perspective reveals the background to Nola Hatterman’s inspiring statement ‘to make your life into a work of art’. I have taken this statement as the starting point for the Nola Hatterman column figuration. I have generalised and “abstracted” the text into an appeal or task that may apply to anyone: ‘Make art of life’.

The maxim becomes ambiguous, is about ‘art and life’, ‘life is an art’, ‘life as art, art as life’. Thus the column specially erected for Nola Hatterman (and her life), may also be viewed as an order to the public, to everyone – no matter the colour of their skin, race, or age – to make a work of art of their life and to collectively celebrate the art of life.

In addition, the content of the column with figuration complements the column series, and the statement may be considered a symbol of the motivation for the ‘You Are Here’ artwork and the subject matter of the legacy of the twentieth century.



‘Make art of life’, column, 80cm x 80cm x 40cm.


Nola Hatterman (1899-1984), was an actress and painter. She grew up at Middenweg 127 within the Watergraafsmeer, and lived in the Rivierenbuurt and the Falckstraat. As a member of the artist’s group “The Independents” including Carel Willink and Paul Citroen, she participated in countless group exhibitions, in the Amsterdam Stedelijk Museum for instance, from 1919 onwards.

In 1953, she settled as an artist in Suriname. Nola Hatterman devoted much of her life to art education in Suriname. After her death in 1984, the eponymous Nola Hatterman Institute was founded and later renamed the Nola Hatterman Art Academy in Paramaribo. In 1997, the Gallery Nola Hatterman was founded in District East, located since then in the Ons Suriname Association building on the Zeeburgerdijk 19-A, a gallery for Surinamese and Caribbean art.

Hatterman emphasised the indigenous and wanted this inherent ideal of beauty to prevail over the European or Western model of beauty. Artist Armand Baag (1941-2001) talks of Nola Hatterman in the following quote: “Each people has the right to its own ideal of beauty and the African ideal has been taken from us. Even fifty years ago, Nola attempted to remedy that. She told people how beautiful they were and not to listen to the sort of nonsense that maintained their mouth was too large or their hair too frizzy. If you don’t love yourself, others will not be able to love you either.”
Hatterman’s philosophy of life, to ‘make your life into a work of art’ made a deep impression on her pupil Armand Baag when he was a boy. (‘Cultuur en migratie in Nederland. Kunsten in beweging 1900-1980’ (2003), pag. 269)
An extensive biography of Nola Hatterman may be found on the website.

Artwork: You Are Here
Artist: Martijn Sandberg
Material: concrete
Measurements: (lxwxh) 80cm x 80cm x 40cm
Project: Legacy of the Twentieth Century
Realisation and completion: 2019
Location: Oranje Vrijstaatkade, Oostpoort, Amsterdam
Commissioned by: Amsterdam Municipality, District Oost