Adult Screen-Printing Workshops

Ancient Knowledge Repackaged: Changing Attitudes by Bringing a New Context to Traditional Motifs

Surrounded by deep mountains of Guizhou Province in south-central China, the Kam minority village of Dimen has developed unique customs, stories, songs and design motifs that differentiate it from other places and have proudly resisted assimilation for centuries. However in the 1990s a large number of young people began to leave the village to make a more lucrative living in faraway factories. Television and satellite brought the mainstream Chinese culture to every home making the Kam want to be like everyone else. As a consequence, the younger generation often sees anything traditional as irrelevant and useless.

With support of the Dimen Eco Museum, Marie Lee conducted a series of screen-printing workshops in Dimen in May 2014 to promote local identity and develop new ways to create products with indigenous aesthetics. Using traditional motifs that were digitized by Lee’s Graphic Design I students, the workshop participants explored their heritage and learned to apply it to contemporary contexts.

During the workshops, Lee closely worked with seven Dimen Dong Cultural Eco Museum staff, four of whom were from the village. They spent several hours every day learning various techniques and then applying them to actual items that can be marketed in the future.