Wednesday, July 09, 2014

Smithsonian Folklife Festival 2014 ... China


(Above:  Dragon heads ... from the Dragon-lion cart.)

Last Thursday afternoon, just before going to the opening reception of Last Words, my solo show at the Tapps Art Center, Steve suggested getting up early the next morning and heading to Washington, DC for Fourth of July fireworks and the annual Smithsonian Folklife Festival on the National Mall.  Of course, I thought this was a brilliant idea!  I love spontaneous and "last minute" ideas.  I also love Washington, DC.


(Above:  Hands-on Chinese calligraphy tent.)

I stitched on the car ride there and back but didn't even touch a needle and thread on Saturday!  Why?  Well, how could I resist and entire day visiting KENYA and CHINA ... or at least the "best of the best" that is always part of the Smithsonian Folklife Festival.

I've gone to several Folklife Festivals over the years.  They've been on the National Mall for the past 47 years.  I had no idea though, that the National Mall is part of the National Park Service.  Recent Park Service changes have resulted in restrictions on how the Mall can be used by groups and events in the future.  If something isn't done, the Smithsonian Folklife Festival will become impossible to stage there.  I learned this from a volunteer who was passing out "Save the Festival" cards directing people to sign an on-line petition.  CLICK HERE to access.  I did!

 (Above:  Relief printing and painting tent.)

Why do I love the Smithsonian Folklife Festival?  Well ... where else can a person watch a block of wood being carved ....

 
 

 .... inked ...

 
 ... and pressed into paper.  Then painted by artisans whose family is the living heritage of the process?



 Where can you meet a master kite builder, create a small kite, and fly it with people from all over the globe?



Where can you experience live, fully costumed performances from far away countries ... for FREE ... and then watch the troupe have lunch?


Where else can you see the actual tools used by batik artists ...

 

... who share their designs ...


... display pieces especially created for the festival ...


 ... allow people to touch them ...

 ... and photograph every detail ...


... and let you sniff their dyes ...


 ... and see their recipes ...

 

... and point out rare stitches (because people weren't really supposed to touch this particular display ... but few could resist and the sign continued to be covered up!)


Only at the Folklife Festival can one admire jackets like this ... unless one can afford the $3000+ price tags ... which are actually very well worth all the expertise, silk embroidery, and fine craftsmanship!


Too beautiful!

So much work by woman like ...


 ... this talented embroiderer.
 

This lady didn't speak a word of English but was so happy to communicate her passion for embroidery to anyone expressing the slightest bit of interest.  At one point, she demonstrated a stitch using very large stitches directly through the yellow tablecloth.  She smiled the entire time, put samples into the hands of the audience, showed the backs of everything, and laughed with pure joy!  She was a delight!


No book can adequately show the dimension to some of the artwork.


The Smithsonian Folklife Festival is an excellent way to see so many styles, ideas, and inspirations that are unique to another culture and also the styles, ideas, and inspirations that are now so easily shared across borders and oceans!  This was the contemporary quilting display!




There were women stitching the most incredibly detailed pieces ... like the Mona Lisa ...


... and this amazingly realistic macaw.  I can admire their dedication, fine craftsmanship, and especially the sparkling personalities needed to stitch in front of so many people ... but there's no way on earth I'd ever attempt anything like this!  We are all different.
 

Yet, we are also alike!  Please notice the Hershey's chocolate container for pins and needles!


Yes, there were plenty of other tents and art forms being shown in the China area but I spent almost all my time in the Textile tent.  Plus ...  after snapping the rest of these photos, my camera's batteries died!  Enjoy!  Sign the petition!
















5 comments:

LA Paylor said...

Oh I got to relive it! Thanks so much Susan.
Did you spend time in Kenya too? I will look around your blog some more while I'm here... next time call me even last minute! We didn't go down Sat until lunch time, and had the dog.
LeeAnna

Els said...

Amazing pictures Susan ! Thank you !
(só great you can enlarge them !!!)
Love that embroidery lady in her beautiful stiff, paper-like gown ;-)

underatopazsky said...

Wow, what a stunning feast for the eyes!

wholly jeanne said...

i've never seen so much cloth, so much thread, so much stitching in one area! thanks for being our tour guide. wish we lived closer so we could tag along on some of these impromptu trips. we love 'em, too.

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