June 17 - August 12, 2011
Taiwan Sublime: Folkways - Melding the Mundane and the Celestial
A selection of large format photographs on loan from the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office in Boston are on exhibit now through August 12 at USM’s Lewiston-Auburn College. The photographs by Huang Ting-sheng are from the larger exhibition,” Taiwan Sublime,” currently touring around the country. Ting-sheng’s images reflect the diverse spiritual dimensions of Taiwan. Accompanying the photographs are Taiwanese puppets and toys.
Taiwan, the Republic of China (ROC), is a land of natural and ethno-cultural diversity. Physically, it is a large island in the Western Pacific between Japan and the Philippines with a full range of climatic zones from tropical to temperate in the mountain areas. The nation is home to more than 23 million people and is one of the most densely populated places in the world. Besides its populous cities, Taiwan is also known for its breathtaking beauty with steep mountains, lush forests, flora, and wildlife.
The ethnic mix of Taiwan citizens includes Chinese, Malayo-Polynesian, Japanese, and Southeastern Asia, as well as immigrants from Europe. The Taiwan aboriginal groups are descended from inhabitants before the 17th century and still speak their native language. As a result, Taiwan is rich in religious and spiritual traditions that include spirits, demons, festive temple fairs, solemn rituals and pilgrimages.
Huang Ting-sheng has photographed over 500 religious festivals and rituals of the Taiwanese people for over 20 years. His work, specifically documenting the folk life of the Taiwanese people, has been widely exhibited and has become a valuable record of the cultural history of the country.
The puppets and toys are on loan from the Taipei Economic and Cultural Organization, located in Boston. The toys include “jianzi,” weighted feather shuttlecocks used in a traditional Asian game in which players aim to keep the weighted jianzi in the air using their feet and other parts of the body, except hands. The game is played by school children as well as a competitive sport between players on a court. It is also done artistically with a spectacular show of skill. The first known version of jianzi was in the 5th century BC in China.
The exhibition continues, free of charge, through August 12, concurrent with “Tell Me a Story: Folktales and World Cultures,” featuring children’s book illustrations by Maine artists.