Miao people celebrate as old art meets new medium

On the eve of Miao New Year, which fell on Thursday, Kala village in Danzhai county, Southeastern Guizhou province, witnessed a previously unseen example of art creation.

Contemporary artists of the "Paper Culture along the Silk Road" project, organized by intangible cultural heritage online community Great Seed, painted graffiti artworks with four traditional Miao craftswomen on apertures of a bridge near the village.

Wang Yiqiong, left, paints with two Miao craftswomen.

Wang Yiqiong, left, paints with two Miao craftswomen.

In cities such as Beijing and Shanghai, impromptu graffiti has been popular for years. It has become an important means of interaction between contemporary artists and locals as well as visitors. However, it is the first time for Danzhai residents to take part in the construction of contemporary art using such a method.

For Miao blue calico painters, it was a challenging task, even for Yang Fang, an adept craftswoman as well as a provincial inheritor of the Miao blue calico technique. When she was invited to paint on the wall using spray paint, she felt confused. "I'm afraid I may not do well. I don't know how to use those things," she said.
Wang Yiqiong, left, paints with two Miao craftswomen.

Hei Yu paints a black fish which is homophonic to his name in Chinese.

Encouraged by the enthusiasm of contemporary artists Wang Yiqiong and Hei Yu, the Miao women let their imaginations flow and created a unique collage of lively traditional images, such as butterflies and birds, using the modern medium.

"I can't believe they do such a good job. After simple study, they expertly use the spray paint cans, and create vivid traditional patterns quickly. That's really incredible. I'm happy to enjoy Miao New Year with them in a special way," Wang said.
A Miao woman paints traditional patterns using a modern medium

A Miao woman paints traditional patterns using a modern medium

More and more Kala villagers came to curiously watch the creative work. Although they knew nothing about contemporary art, they considered that painting in such a way was fresh and interesting. Even with evening drawing in, many villagers still didn't want to leave, and helped light the artists and craftswomen with torches.

Yang was a little unwillingly to take part at the start, because she wanted to eat New Year supper with her family. Finally, she was late for the family reunion, but felt it was unforgettable to celebrate the New Year with new friends in such a way.
Miao women feel both curious and excited creating spray paint graffiti for the first time

Miao women feel both curious and excited creating spray paint graffiti for the first time

"Compared with wax carving, painting with spray paint cans is not easy for me. But I did it! It's really fun to paint such huge patterns on the aperture of bridge, my very first time to do so. I feel it really cool and enjoyable," Yang said.

The event has proven that the old can go in hand with the new, that the tradition and modernity can find harmony between one another. For Danzhai, a county with seven national intangible cultural heritages, such an artistic cross fertilization may bring new trains of thought on protection and development of intangible cultural heritages.
Contemporary artists, representatives from Great Seed "Paper Culture along the Silk Road" project and Miao local blue calico craftswomen after completing their artistic creations

Contemporary artists, representatives from Great Seed "Paper Culture along the Silk Road" project and Miao local blue calico craftswomen after completing their artistic creations

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