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Throughout the afternoon of Nov. 5, individual artists representing the US China Peoples Friendship Association’s Annual China Festival demonstrated their talents to a huge audience of students gathered in a double classroom in the art wing at Evanston Township High School.
Zhu Mingde, artist and caricaturist, known both in China and elsewhere was the first to present. The students quickly surrounded the table to watch him demonstrate ink painting. Zhi Jianjun, an interpreter and member of the division of European and American Affairs, translated for the students. Mr. Zhi explained that ink painting is a centuries-old tradition in which the artist’s brush strokes give the painting rhythm and beauty while revealing the individuality and style of the artist himself. The artist’s drawings of fish have been exhibited in Beijing, Europe and the United States. Just recently, he had a one man show of his paintings in Beijing’s Ancestor Temple.
At another table Xu Li, a member of the Beijing Folk Artist Association, demonstrated kite-making. Once introductions were made, the students looked at the many kites on display. Kite-making is a traditional Chinese handicraft, and the designs on most Chinese kites have a symbolic meaning or are illustrations from Chinese folklore or history. The kites were intricate and colorful, and the students appeared intrigued. One of Mr. Xu ‘s recent kites, titled “Baby Tiger Wishing You Longevity,” is in a collection at the Chinese National Art Gallery.
Yan Xiaoming, a calligrapher, also shared her skills. She has received a host of awards, such as one from the China-Japan Women’s Calligraphy Exhibition and another from the Golden Award at the Chinese National Women’s Calligraphy Exhibition. The ETHS students watched the artist use line, value, balance and composition in her demonstration. Then she invited the students to write their names in English for her to translate into Chinese characters.
Visiting room A247 at ETHS that afternoon offered students a cultural experience. As part of the Annual China Festival, this delegation of Chinese artists from Beijing was invited to the school to provide the students this rich opportunity.
The interpreters invited the students to surround the working space of each artist while the artist demonstrated ink painting, kite-making, Chinese painting and calligraphy. The students’ watched with respect and focus throughout the demonstrations.
A work titled “Dancing Lady from Ancient China,” painted by Mr.Zhu during the afternoon, was among the gifts presented to ETHS. Fine Arts Department chair Pam Sloan, in turn, presented gifts to the Chinese delegation before the demonstrations continued.
Pam Sloan coordinated the program with Roger Noback, president of the US-CPFA-Chicago Chapter, as part of the Annual China Festival.
The festival was created and organized under the auspices of the Chicago Chapter of US-CPFA. Northwestern University hosted the 2009 festival, which ran through Dec. 6. The festival featured both traditional and contemporary Chinese art — Chinese traditional painting, folk art, photography, music and dancing.
This organization works to develop and strengthen friendship and understanding between the people of the U.S. and China, says Roger Noback.
On Dec.3, a delegation of Chinese artists performed at ETHS in the Upstairs Theatre. This was a follow-up visit to the visual artists who performed at ETHS earlier in the month. Another group of artists performed Chinese Opera, acting, dance and instrumental music. Those who performed were artists from the China Conservatory in Beijing, China National Opera Troupe, China National Symphony Orchestra, China Traditional Opera College, North Kunqu Troupe, Beijing Acrobatic Troupe and the Beijing Dance College.
The festival concluded with the Beijing Performing Arts Gala at Cahn Auditorium.
The delegation of artists that participated in the annual China Symposium 2009 included: Goa Dongcheng, He Chengcai, He Kangmin, Li Yaolin, Meng Qianqian, Wang Yue and Yu Zhihai.
Students at ETHS were given the opportunity to appreciate the distinguished artistry of the Chinese delegation as part of the Fine Arts department mission of “…inspir[ing] in students a lifelong involvement in and appreciation of the arts through production, presentation and performance experiences.”