Dialogue Trip of Chinese Folk Art and American Cowboy Expressions
Art Exchange VOL.02/2013|By Du Hong
Chinese Artist Made Kites on the Spot
Media Fascinated by Chinese Folk Art Week
e Showcase on How to Make a Chinese Knot
Showcase on How to Make a Kite
VIP Guests Appreciated Kite Arts Section
Exquisite Paper Cut from Fengning
Beautiful Imperial Lanterns

  • Chinese Artist Made Kites on the Spot
  • Media Fascinated by Chinese Folk Art Week
  • e Showcase on How to Make a Chinese Knot
  • Showcase on How to Make a Kite
  • VIP Guests Appreciated Kite Arts Section
  • Exquisite Paper Cut from Fengning
  • Beautiful Imperial Lanterns
   
With bright sun, gentle breeze and exuberant atmosphere, Dallas and Addison are quite similar to Beijing in May. In such a wonderful season, 19 Chinese artists and experts from Beijing, Hebei, Liaoning and Hubei visited USA with over ten kinds of folkloric unique handicraft, that is, Yichang BuBuSheng Shoe Culture, Shadow Play by Li Haibin from Tangshan, Reed Painting by Liu Yongle from Bai Yangdian, Dough Modeling by Wang Liang, "Katydid King", Clay Sculpture by Wang Lianwen, Eggshell Carving by Pu Derong from Zhuozhou, Chinese Knot Knitting by Mi Lingzhu from Beijing, Inner Painting by Jia Jianming from Hengshui, Paper Cut by Jia Yongzhen from Fengning and Kite by Ha Yiqi from Beijing. Beginning with the official announcement by Madame Zhao Shi, executive vice president of CFLAC, a dazzling fashion of Chinese folk arts took place in Crow Collection of Asian Art in Dallas, Texas, North Park Shopping Center and Addison Artisan Center, all of which used to be full of Cowboy, Blues and Rock-n-Roll. 

Headed by Zhou Yanping, deputy secretary general of China Folk Literary and Art Association, the Chinese folk art delegation flew to Dallas on May 6 and prepared exhibitions in Crow Collection of Asian Art and Addison Artisan Center on the next day. On May 8, the exhibition and showcase were officially launched and on that evening, Madame Zhao Shi, executive vice president of CFLAC, Xu Erwen, Consul General of Chinese Consulate in Houston, Todd Meier, Mayor of Addison, James Falk, President of World Affairs Council of Dallas/Fort Worth and Trammell Crow, President of Crow Collection of Asian Art, attended the reception jointly sponsored by related organizations to extend welcome to Chinese folk art ensemble and witness the opening of “Spot on China—Chinese Folk Art Week” in Crow Collection of Asian Art with lanterns and colorful decorations. 

Chinese Folk Art Week is actually the main part of World Fest. As a key annual international cultural gala in North Kansas State, World Fest aims to enable local people to enjoy music, art and delicious food from more than 70 countries and regions and different ethnic groups. As its slogan goes, “it is possible to travel around the world at a weekend”. Starting from 2008 on, World Fest is jointly sponsored by Addison Municipality, World Fest Affair Council and Crow Collection of Asian Art. From 2013 on, the sponsors were determined to expand this weekend-long event to an entire year in order to conduct in-depth exploration of a certain country, its people, culture and role in the international community. China then becomes the first choice for this year. 

The folk artworks and handicraft exhibited in Chinese Folk Art Week, thanks to their outstanding artistry, are “Top Folk Art in China” and at the same time belong to Intangible Cultural Heritage Preservation of China. Such exclusive and unique artistic presentations in each field highlight the international leading level of Chinese folk art in tour performances in Dallas and Addison. 

BuBuSheng Cloth Shoes Culture from Yichang is an award winner of Excellent Cultural Brand in Hubei “One Brand in One County” Excellent Cultural Brand Campaign promoted by CFLAC. The exhibited works of cloth shoes culture are all selected representatives out of the 1021 items in collection of BuBuSheng Cloth Shoes Museum with time span of nearly three centuries from Qing Dynasty till now. From Lily Feet Shape till Healthy Model, the exhibits fall into four parts: National Attraction, Pertinent Feelings, Hardship Endurance and Back to Nature. In the first part, a time-honored and profound national cultural tradition with distinct national character is introduced, while in the second part the diligent and smart Chinese women’s poetic expression and longing for happiness and love, and varied interpersonal emotions between mother and son, between husband and wife and between serviceman and citizen are fully demonstrated. Furthermore, this exhibition will showcase the national patent technique, pure natural raw materials, totally hand-made manufacture and backbone of Chinese shoe culture and care-for-life culture of BuBuSheng and provide a detailed interpretation of its essence of “Cultural Interest, Local Expression and Green Care for Life”, all of which gained extensive popularity among American audiences. As for Reed Painting by Liu Yongle from Baiyangdian, its vivid yet simple pattern and full taste of wilderness will bring the viewers back to nature, which results in its reputation of “Green Art” painting. With pure natural reed as raw material, craftsman will go through several handy phases such as preparation, carving, coloring (by ironing), pasting and ornamenting. The 80 percent of the entire painting adopts natural color of reed and the rest is made by ironing carbonization. As for material, the reed painting can be on reed paper, cloth, Chinese folding fan or screen and even active carbon board, and the content could be of varied and abundant forms and interests such as flower and bird, or mountain and lake, or cat-fish-grass-insect or national bird from Mauritius, which were appreciated by American art collectors. In particular, a series of reed painting with the theme of Lotus, thanks to original property, lotus leaf and Fairy Lotus, typical Chinese cultural symbols as well as indicated Buddhist implication, totally fascinated American audiences. 

Inner Painting Art is a unique traditional art form in China. The creator will choose glass, crystal or amber transparent pots and take special thin brushes to depict a detailed micro-picture of personage, landscape, flowers and birds and calligraphy. Within such a tiny dimension, the elegant style, exquisite layout and brilliant colors present an amazing wonder of Chinese folk arts. The exhibited Inner Painting was made by Jia Jianming from Hengshui, the first representative of local portrait style, and his works are characterized by literary theme, touching story and humanist flavor, all of which made American audience spellbound. Eggshell Carving by Pu Derong from Zhuozhou has formed his own unique style with skills in painting, craftsmanship and aesthetics. With realistic carving and hollow-out carving as main pattern, he resorts to micro-sculpture technique and traditional Chinese painting factors to genuinely reproduce all countries’ special expression in the form of Chinese traditional folk art. The special dedicated series of works such as portraits of Marilyn Monroe and President Lincoln were highly praised by American audiences. 

Shadow Play is the only performing art in the whole Chinese Folk Art Week. Various local theatre elements of North China were expressed in both the contents and the performing styles. With interesting dialects of Dalian or Tangshan, special flavor of local theatre of North China can be tasted. Particularly, Li Haibin, young folk artist, adopted high pitch, falsetto, florid ornamentation and off-the-beat in singing to make unique funny sound with the accompaniment of Chinese traditional Suona, drum and bell. In the continuous performance in Crow Collection of Asian Art and North Park Shopping Center, his extraordinary sense of humor and interesting performance was invariably the most popular one, especially among American teenagers and youngsters. 

The author is a writer, playwright and curator of Cloth Shoes Culture Exhibition of Chinese Folk Art Week 

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