Screen-Printing Workshops for Children

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.

Screen-Printing Workshops for Dimen Children
With support of the Museum, Marie Lee organized two screen-printing workshops for Dimen children with sixteen and twenty-one in attendance respectively. The children learned to print first on paper and later on fabric. They were not familiar with the local motifs we used but thought of them as very beautiful. The children decorated their fabric with additional drawings in fabric crayons and markers. When there was no more fabric to use, they used plastic plates meant for organizing the supplies on tables to print on and decorate. The children stayed for two hours instead of one and thoroughly enjoyed the experience. We had six return students for the second workshop with two bringing drawings of their relatives embroideries to show us, a homework we gave them in the first workshop. At the end, children proudly signed their names under their artwork. We collected it to iron it and delivered it next day to their school. A group helped clean after the workshop and came to draw with us the next day.