Chinese flower festival draws in students, community

The Chinese Calligraphy Club introduced the Chinese culture to a crowded room of people at Friday’s Huazhao Festival. The event, which was held at the Mathers Museum, was an exhibition of an ancient Chinese flower festival that celebrates the spring.

The event featured a variety of interactive activities. As people went from table to table, they participated in various forms of Chinese art, such as calligraphy, painting and paper crafts. People could sample cakes and flower teas, play games and listen to performances of traditional Chinese music.

Sarah Hatcher, head of education and programs at the Mathers Museum, said the Huazhao Festival has been held in the past at IU, but this was the first year it was held at the Mathers Museum. The museum serves as a “gateway between the campus and the community,” she said, and as a result, a large group of all ages attended the event.

Qindan Nie, member of the Chinese Calligraphy Club, said she was pleased with the outcome of the event.

“It’s been the most successful event we’ve ever had,” Nie said. “We’ve never had so many people.”

Zeying Yang, a Chinese Calligraphy Club member, taught people how to write some of the basic brush strokes of calligraphy. She said the opportunity to perform Chinese calligraphy has been a beneficial experience as an international student on campus because it has allowed her to interact with other people of the Chinese culture and teach others about the art form.

“Calligraphy is a really beautiful art,” Yang said. “We want more people to know it.”

Sophomore Mary Van Spankeren had to experience an event from a different culture for a class assignment, and she chose the Huazhao Festival. It was enjoyable to try the calligraphy and painting, she said.

“It gives me an appreciation for how hard it is,” Van Spankeren said.

Professor Nelson Shaffer said he discovered the event by chance when he entered the museum Friday afternoon, and he decided to attend.

“This is absolutely lovely,” Shaffer said. “The level of energy and interaction is amazing. There are so many things you can do.”

Shaffer said he appreciated the calligraphy and the music of the traditional Chinese string instrument called the guzheng.

“The beauty of the calligraphy and the otherworldly sounds of the guzheng are lovely.”

Xianxia Michelson attended the event with her daughter after learning about it on Facebook. She said she liked all of the activities because there were games for her child to play and an introduction to the art of calligraphy, which she encourages her children to learn.

She was also happy to see an event that allows “children to know their roots,” although they live outside of China, Michelson said.

Kerui Chen, director of marketing for Chinese Calligraphy Club, said the festival is an opportunity for people, wherever they are from, to learn about the Chinese culture.

“People from different places can know the Chinese tradition,” Chen said. “That is the main idea of why we set up the event.”

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