Watertown woman’s well-traveled life informs her art


By Peg Lopata, Contributing Writer 

Well-traveled artist Giliane Bader
Giliane Bader

WATERTOWN – Do you keep your promises to yourself? Giliane Bader certainly has. She promised herself she’d return to art after she retired, and she’s done just that. Most recently, she has been working with acrylic and mixed media on wood panels. She also has kept herself involved in learning more and in being with a community of artists.

“A program I enrolled in was a lifesaver as the pandemic started,” she said. “Over three months, I spent hours every day focused on learning and doing while being part of a community of like-minded artists. My art is a passion that gives meaning to my life, especially during this pandemic.”


A source of joy, frustration and fun

Though learning from others is important to her, Bader is largely a self-taught artist. She enjoys engaging with materials, being expressive, and playing, and says for her, art is an exploration, but is also a source of joy, frustration and fun. She’s also learned how to make changes. This philosophy not only guides her creative life, but her life in general.

“Life is all about change,” said Bader.


A traveler

No one can come more face-to-face with this fact that life is about change than an explorer. And Bader is an explorer in art and in her life. She was born in Algeria, near the Moroccan border, when Algeria was a part of France. During the post-World War II years her family lived in Germany for five years, returning to Algeria when she was seven years old. They were on the move again at the end of a civil war in Algeria, this time to Paris. She was sixteen. It was not a happy time, Bader explains.
“As with others coming from Algeria, I was relegated to the back of the classroom,” she explained.


Happier Times


Luckily, her time in Paris was short-lived and her father’s work sent the family to Tahiti.  

“The island was an amazing place at that time, in the sixties,” she said.  

After living in Tahiti, she did a lot of traveling, including trips to the Democratic Republic of Congo, where her parents lived for a few years, and Turkey, Egypt and the French West Indies. She eventually settled in Cambridge, a place she fell in love with at first sight.  


Her travels inform her art 

“Inner Peace” -- mixed-media artwork by Giliane Bader
“Inner Peace”

As she shares on her website, “The fauna and flora, colors, patterns and light qualities I encountered in Africa, the Mediterranean and Tahiti flow throughout my work.” Her life experiences inform her work, as well. 

“I think that a well-traveled life, along with some difficult experiences, has given me a frame reference different than most,” Bader said. “I have been exposed to many cultures and ways of life, changes and adaptation.” 

Her works reflect all she has experienced. Some pieces show her connection to New England; others have the vibrant colors of the Caribbean. Many of her designs recall the jumble yet order of an African marketplace. Her art expresses a life well-traveled. 

To learn more about Bader and her work, visit her website: https://www.gilianebader.com/