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

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