SAMFA Celebrates Asian American Culture
The lovely weather brought many families out to the Sixth Annual Family Day: China at the San Angelo Museum of Fine Arts Feb. 8. The museum hosted many local organizations who were more than happy to participate and share Asian American heritage with the public.
“We actually have a very big population of Asian American people in San Angelo,” said Rebekah Coleman, museum educator.
Coleman explained that the association of Asian American women approached her six years ago to get the ball rolling on the culture sharing event, and it’s been a popular family day ever since.
“It’s not just art on the walls, it’s art in our life,” she said. “The community is the biggest piece of art to us, so [we want] to reflect that with our Family Day China to reflect our Asian American culture.”
Various entities from the community gathered at the museum to showcase various aspects of Asian culture, from origami and character painting, to Tai Chi demonstrations. Mathis Field Café even brought Chinese food to tantalize the pallets of museum-goers.
Tai Chi Concho proved to be most popular after their fan demonstration, and afterwards many kids received fans and a short lesson from Steve Haidinger.
“The children love Tai Chi because it’s a playful martial art,” Haidinger, Qigong Master and practioner of Tai Chi for 14 years, said. “What we do is called playing Tai Chi, it’s meant to increase flexibility and instill a sense of calm.”
Haidinger explained that because of the gentle and playful nature of the martial art, it is popular with children and much older adults, while younger adults prefer the rigor of “hard” martial arts like Tae Kwon Do.
While Tai Chi may have demonstrated fans, one children's table was set up for children to decorate them, along with origami tables and a table where the public could paint and take home Chinese characters.
But of course it wouldn’t be a museum without a few artifacts on loan from the Asian American public, which featured perfume and medicine bottles, fans and third generation china.
“These medicine and perfume bottles are done in the reverse painting style,” explained Phillip Velez, volunteer at the museum. “The glass is painted before it’s wrapped around, it’s a very skilled art style.”
Velez also explained that fans were a large part of Chinese culture, ranging from small, personal ones carried by women, to ones six feet in length used for decorative purposes. However, his eyes lit up when he described a bowl made of porcelain.
“This is an old porcelain bowl,” he said, showing a piece. “Usually they stay within the family, and this is at least a third generation bowl.”
With so many activities and demonstrations, along with the allure of the fine art on display, the event proved to be rather popular. Coleman estimated 600-700 people attended the cultural event.
For more information about the San Angelo Museum of Fine Arts, visit www.samfa.org or call (325) 653- 3333
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