Sunday, February 26, 2012

Nia Moves

Nia is a fusion movement form that has so many benefits along with being great fun.  Here’s a music clip with rhythmic music that’s well filmed and will give you a flavor of some of what I love about Nia—though I have not danced in a plaza in a large city yet.

At the beginning of this dance clip is some black and white filming of Portland, Oregon people moving toward Directors Park. 

Here are some fun things to watch for during this dance break: the variety of people dancing together—women, men, and children, young, old.  Zoom in close-ups of feet dancing and panoramas of the large group dancing together.  Their faces and bodies tell you: joy of movement!  This is one of the things that I love about Nia.

This is a dance break that was filmed with Debi Rosas, co creator of the Nia technique, dressed in all black with silver jewelry;  Caroline Kohles,  to her left from New York City, dressed in black and white; and Kevin VerEecke to her right dressed in long sleeved t-shirt and black jeans.  The song is "No Quiero Nada Mas" by Sancti Spiritus, which is a featured track on the NiaSounds CD "Aya."   Visit NiaSounds for more music.

Enjoy the music and the fun of people dancing Nia together and  find a class near you!

Monday, February 20, 2012

Mary Lee Eischen: Quilting Artist

Part of a cosmic reality . . .
I’m not sure what that means, but I’ve been thinking about my being a part of something bigger.  Bigger than living in Winona, or Minnesota or the United States; bigger than being of a specific cultural descent, bigger than race, gender, ability, thoughts, words, likes, or dislikes.  When I reduce all of the components that make me who I am, is there still a greater essence that makes me part of a whole of humanity?  Are we all connected?  This bit of philosophical pondering resulted in my being invited to be part of a Chinese New Year and Multicultural Celebration at SE Technical College on the Redwing, Minnesota campus earlier this month.

Yanmei Jiang, professor of Chinese Culture organized the Chinese New Year Celebration.   This celebration, in its second annual year is a way to share Chinese culture with students, professors and other staff along with community members.   There was a sampling of delicious Chinese food, music, dance, entertainment, and red fortune envelopes for the children.

In addition this year, people from around the world were invited to represent their cultural roots.  They shared their talents and cultural traditions. This is where my quilts fit in:  I was the American Quilting Artist.  I displayed some of my quilts and talked with people about my cultural heritage of being Austrian, Bohemian, German, Luxembourger, and Irish through my quilts. I talked with people about quilting techniques too.

All of the photographs were reproduced from antique pictures scanned to my computer and transferred to treated paper and ironed on to fabric.  The photos on Stars of My Life are the people made up of my family. Stars of my Life was my first mixed media quilt.

Anna Windschitl at haying time, my mother’s great grandmother

Mary Rose (Windschitl) and Robert Eischen, wedding 1957, my parents

 Mary Catherine Windschitl, my Grandmother

 Mary Lee & Amaliya Eischen,  I'm holding my daughter

  Amaliya's first year, my daughter
As people watched the entertainment and enjoyed their Chinese food, I had the opportunity to get some pictures of this amazing celebration. 

The Carleton College Chinese Silk and Bamboo Music Ensemble preformed with interesting musical instruments such as the pipa, Chinese flute; the Erhu and gaohu, Chinese violins; guzheng, Chinese table harp; Bawu, clarinet-like instrument; and the dizi and hulus, Chinese Mahinese flutes.

Gao Hong is a masterful pipa musician who graduated with honors from China’s premier music school, the Central Conservatory of Music in Beijing, where she studied with  great pipa master Lin Shicheng.  Hong has performed throughout Europe, Australia, Japan, Hong Kong, China and the United States in solo concerts and with symphony orchestras, jazz musicians and musicians from all around the world.  She is currently teaching Chinese musical instruments at Carleton College in Northfield, Minnesota.

Mongolian Dancer Galloping on the Prairie

The dancers from the Chinese American Association of Minnesota, CAAM, Chinese Dance Theater serve families and delighted audiences.  The Chinese Dance Theater performs before 17,000 live audience members each year.  With its dance school, annual concerts and outreach performances, the Chinese Dance Theater is the largest Chinese dance organization in the Midwest.

 Young dancers performing Cheerful Girls

 Bob Stuber, Sound Guy making all the musicians and performers sound great

I am very grateful to Yanmei Jiang, right, and all who helped make this celebration so wonderful and successful.  With a feeling of inclusion of all cultures, I took a moment to pause and think about all of our interconnectedness.

 Mary Lee Eischen: Quilting Artist

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Soul Collage® Understanding My Wise Woman Within

Collage according to the Merriam Webster dictionary is:  

a : an artistic composition made of various materials (as paper, cloth, or wood) glued on a surface. 

I create collage with my mixed media quilts in which I use cloth, words, paper, beads, buttons, and decorative trims.  In Soul Collage® one works with images in a similar way to create a personal deck of cards that can be used for insights into a person’s wise inner self.  The developer of Soul Collage® is Seena B. Frost.  I learned about this wonderful technique on the retreat that I took on Orcas Island with Vicky B. White last October 2011.  

I decided that I wanted to create a card or two on Nurturing Myself: Physically, Emotionally, Mentally, and Spiritually.  I began by gathering images that represented being nurtured in all of these four ways.  I collect magazines, postcards, junk mail, free brochures, cards that I receive and anything that may have images that I don’t mind cutting or ripping for collage.  When I do this work, I don’t worry about what it all means.  I enjoy the process of using colors and images that are beautiful to me and I choose interesting ways to put them together.  Sometimes I listen to music; sometimes I allow silence to wash over me.  This creating is very fun.  This past weekend, I made some cards.  Here are a few of the cards that I created:

Nurturing myself emotionally:


Nurturing myself mentally:

Nurturing myself physically:

 Additional information available at Soul Collage® to learn more.


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