VineOnline is a blog dedicated to reporting the latest news and events from ChinaVine team members

  • On Transmedia Communications between the United States and China November 7, 2011
    A dilemma the ChinaVine project faces involves effectively communicating digital transmedia storytelling across international regions. In the particular instance of communication between China and the United States, uploading videos to Vimeo is not the best solution because Chinese learners can not always access the content. The reason for limitated access t […]
  • Vine Online November 7, 2011
    Vine Online is a branch of ChinaVine dedicated to reporting the latest news and events from ChinaVine team members. While the new iteration of ChinaVine.org is nearing its final stages of testing, keep an eye on Vine Online for the latest ChinaVine updates. 
  • Digital Bridges to Connect Continents November 7, 2011
      This post originally appeared at VineOnline by Jonathan Lederman on May 5th, 2011.  Bright, glowing digital displays illuminate the millions of eyes across the world everyday. These are the eyes of the next generation – a generation which will see unprecedented ease and immediacy of communication. In this case, they are viewing interconnected networks for […]

Traditional Masks | Beijing Opera Art’s College

When ChinaVine team member, Jordan Lynton, began researching the Peking Opera the summer after her freshmen year at the University of Central Florida, she never imagined that two years later she would be in Beijing sitting in on a martial arts class at the Beijing Opera Art’s College. Beginning her research as an article for chinavine.org, Jordan immersed herself in studying every aspect of Peking Opera, from its long history, to its intricate costuming and makeup that distinguishes it from other types of theater. Jordan became so invested in this research that she found herself making travel plans to see a Peking Opera rendition of Little Red Riding Hood playing at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Though this unfortunately fell through, a greater opportunity awaited.

This past Spring, Jordan was able to travel with ChinaVine during our most recent research trip and attend the Beijing Opera Art’s College (the Peking Opera training school in Beijing), as well as tour the college’s museum and observed classes.

“It was gratifying to see everything I had researched up close and in person. We watched young students ages 10 and up sing, preform acrobatic feats, dance, as well as act. Their talent was breathtaking, but it was even more incredible to find out that this art form, centuries in the making, is still being cultivated today In fact, we later learned that most of the students in the Peking Opera classes at the Beijing Opera Art’s College are fully funded by the government,” describes Jordan.

As Jordan’s research explains, the Peking Opera can be traced back to ancient times when dancers would perform at religious ceremonies and the festivals of feudal lords. The dancers, accompanied by lutes and pipes, would act out battle scenes as monsters and animals from folklore. As international trade, the Chinese culture grew with the influences of its international neighbors. This constant evolution of the arts eventually led to what is now the modern Peking Opera.
From performing the research to seeing the practical application of her studies, Jordan’s journey has not only taught her invaluable lessons, but has also, as she remarks, “renewed my vigor for studying other cultures and peoples.”

Jordan has completed extensive research on The Peking Opera. Be sure to learn about the CharactersCostumes and Colors and Music by reading more on ChinaVine.org.


Calligraphy with King


Yesterday, guest artist King Tang came to visit Emily Hope Dobkin’s ArtsBridge class and taught a fantastic calligraphy lesson…see for yourself!

ChinaVine in the Press

Check out a recent article published by Central Florida Future on ChinaVine as an on-going interactive website project: University-Partnered Site Introduces Chinese Culture to Thousands

Oregon Asian Celebration

ChinaVine members shared what ChinaVine is all about this past weekend at the Oregon Asian Celebration. Ying Tang serenaded the crowd by playing the erhu, and Puddles the Duck learned traditional Chinese calligraphy!

Nixon and China Exhibit Almost Complete!

ChinaVine Members, John Fenn and Jonathan Lederman set up for the "Nixon in China" exhibit opening February 18th at the Jordan Schnizter Museum of Art in Eugene, Oregon.

Yue’s Chinese New Year Celebration!

ChinaVine member, Yue Liu, hosted the most wonderful Chinese New Years Celebration. Check it out!

Happy Chinese New Year!

The ChinaVine Team wishes you a Happy Chinese New Year!

Mr. SouTian: A Tour of the Artist’s Studio

Mr. SouTian is an artist who lives and works in the Song Zhuang area. Song Zhuang is an area outside of Beijing which has been developing as an artist community over the past 25 years. Starting as a rural retreat for artists who wanted studio space outside the city, the area now attracts foreign artists and students from art schools. It also attracts tourists and members of the art world who want to visit artist’s studios and galleries.

Mr. SouTian identifies as a sculptor, a painter, ceramicist and a calligrapher. During the course of the visit to his studio, the fieldwork team was able to see work in all four mediums. The tour of Mr. SouTian’s studio space began in an open room with some of his finished works on display including ceramic work, painting, calligraphy and sculpture. The first piece Mr. SouTian explained to the fieldwork team, which hung in the entryway to the studio, was a painting of Mao and several individuals reacting to Mao’s presence. The artist described this not as a criticism of Mao but was instead was a representation of the variety of responses people can have to Mao and his legacy. Members of the fieldwork team found a resemblance between people in the painting and the artist himself.

The open space of the studio, which displayed finished work, was about fifty feet by fifty feet. There was another corner of the studio with a work in progress. This painting in progress was off to the left when you first walk in to the studio and was propped up against the wall. In the work area there were reference books stacked under paints and brushes. One book was open to a page with pictures of starfish and sharks, which the team was able to recognize in the painting the artist was currently working on. The video below has close up shots of this in progress painting and further information about the artist’s practice. The studio also had a pool table and Mr. SouTian had converted it in to a calligraphy workspace. The pool table had paper, inks and brushes on top of it. The table had a thick mat made of wool one quarter of an inch in height. The wool had newspaper on top of it in order to keep the ink from soaking through on the surface of the pool table. The pool table also had several crumpled pieces of practice calligraphy paper on it.

Mr. SouTian discussed the significance of the combination of materials he uses in his work, specifically with regard to his ceramic work. He created porcelain busts of communist figures such as Marx, Engels and Mao. He paints on the ceramic figures using, what he described as, traditional Chinese brush painting techniques. Mr. SouTian’s work in all mediums often has a mixture of contemporary and historically practiced themes or techniques. He told the fieldwork team the mixture of contemporary ceramic techniques and Chinese brush painting techniques symbolizes the contrast between “common people” and the refinement of political thinkers. When he first showed the busts to the team, Mr. SouTian asked us if we were able to identify the names of any of the busts of political figures.

Mr. SouTian conducted the tour of his studio in Mandarin. Two members of the fieldwork team, YuTing and Jo, translated for the group and translated questions from the English speakers in the group for Mr. SouTian during an interview. It was very hot inside his studio and Mr. SouTian gave all the members of the fieldwork team fans during the interview portion of our visit. This space was much quieter and there was less noise from construction of nearby buildings in Mr. SouTian’s studio. After the interview we continued the tour behind a wall dividing the studio from a storage area. The storage area had covered sculptures and a cardboard bucket where calligraphy practice sheets, some of which were more than three years old, were stored. The work area had materials, such as acrylic and oil paints, stored on a rolling platform lined with cardboard. At the conclusion of our visit Mr. SouTian signed several cards with images of his artwork for the team. He also did calligraphy on the pool table on a fan for Professor Blandy. He used ink and brushes already out on the pool table and finished the piece with a wax seal.

Click here to view the embedded video.

Looking through the images of work in Mr. SouTian’s studio included below, can you notice any themes from Christian artwork mentioned during the video clip? Where can you identify motifs created by Chinese brushwork? How do you interpret the interaction between these themes in his work?

Studio space with room for visitors
Fieldwork team in Mr. SouTian's studio
Sculpture and painting with similar themes
Painting in progress
Row of Porcelain Heads
Row of ceramic heads
Pool table with materials
Calligraphy brushes
Paints and other materials
Showing the fieldwork team his work
Mr. SouTian's pool table turned in to a calligraphy work space
Construction of nearby studios

Mr. Her Makes a Noodle Lunch for the Fieldwork Team

On July 13th, 2011 the entire field school team made their first visit to Mr. Her’s studio. Mr. Her showed the team around his studio, which is currently under construction. He discussed with us several of his finished paintings. The paintings were lined up under a covered walkway with an open wall to a courtyard. He is originally from Su Pu village in Southern Ningxia Hui Autonmous District in North Central China. He explained the strong influence his home has on the imagery in his paintings. Mr. Her also described the materials he used, where he obtained the materials in Song Zhuang and how his canvases were constructed. There are several stores in Song Zhuang where artist’s materials are sold since there are so many working artists in the area.

Mr. Her told us he was working very closely with the workers helping him build the studio to make sure it fit his specific vision. He wanted to make sure his studio and gallery space would be the best space for presenting his artwork in. For example, the courtyard has hand carved images of oxen in the stone walls that Mr. Her created. His studio is still under construction and is representative of many studios in the area with regard to its state of completion. During the course of this first tour, Mr. Her told the team he would make the fieldwork team noodles the following day.

When the team returned to his studio the following day Mr. Her had already prepared the dough and it was ready to be kneaded. The team documented the preparations of the noodles from this point on. Mr. Her described the process of making the dough. He woke up at six in the morning (he was making lunch for us) and began preparing the dough which would eventually be the noodles. He told us it was important to let the dough sit for one to two hours before kneading it so it would reach the right consistency. During the morning he had also obtained the other ingredients of the soup, including vegetables and meat, and beer for the lunch.

Throughout the noodle preparation, the sound of construction could be heard in all four directions around Mr. Her’s studio. In the courtyard you could clearly hear the sounds of drilling, construction materials being moved at the sites of nearby studios and buildings. You could also hear vehicles and trucks moving down the streets around the studio. If you listen to the audio recording of the noodle preparation below can you pick out these sounds? What other sounds can you hear? The sounds of construction could also be heard in the partially enclosed area in Mr. Her’s studio where the noodles were being made, since he was still in the process of installing doors and walls. The partially enclosed area where he prepared the noodles had a second floor above it. It was still under construction and would eventually become a gallery to show his finished work to visitors.

While Mr. Her was making the noodles the materials he had out on the work table included cutting boards with flour, a teapot, ladle, chopsticks, knives, rolling pins, a lazy susan with tea and condiments, two rags, a bowl of flour and a half chopped potato. He used a table about two feet above the ground to knead, roll and cut the dough. The table was in the center of the partially constructed room and the stove was to the side of the table. Since the table was in the center of the room it was easy for the fieldwork team to document the process. Mr. Her kneaded the dough and showed one member of our team, Jeanette, how the knead the dough using the technique he was using. Jeanette received feedback from the fieldwork team and Mr. Her about how to best knead the dough to create the proper texture of the noodles. After several minutes Mr. Her began to knead the dough again.

The whole team formed a semi-circle around Mr. He while he was kneading and cutting the noodles in order to document the process. His wife videotaped and photographed the group gathered around Mr. Her. Neighboring artists, including Mr. SouTian, also came in towards the end of the preparation and ate lunch with the fieldwork team. When Mr. Her moved to the pot of boiling vegetables and meat in order to put the noodles in, the whole team moved with him to follow the process of putting the noodles in to the pot. After documenting the process of preparing the noodles, the fieldwork team had lunch with Mr. Her and some of the artists with studios neighboring his.

Click here to view the embedded video.

When you watch the video and look at the photo gallery, what kitchen utensils are like the ones you would use to prepare noodles, pasta or another similar dish? Do you think you could recreate the technique used to make these noodles after watching this video?

Bricks stacked outside the entrance to Mr. He's studio
Construction materials in the street outside the studio
A view from the courtyard of the studio
Oxen carving
Carved designs on the courtyard wall
Rolling the dough
Kneading the dough
Work table with materials
Cutting the noodles
Checking the boiling pot
Serving from the finished pot of noodles
Finish Product
Serving a bowl of noodles to Nan
Fieldwork team eating lunch
Mr. He and Professor Fenn exchange drawings
Mr. He explaining his work

Listen to the sound recordings below. What sounds can you pick out from the background of the recording of noodle preparation and the recording of the fieldwork team having lunch?

Mr. Her explains his process while he prepares noodles by chinavine

Lunch conversation over Mr. Her’s noodles by chinavine

ChinaVine in the Classroom

We have been so happy to have Chinese students from the Oregon International Internship Program integrate ChinaVine into their curriculum within Eugene schools this term. Most recently, Lin Ying Xin shared ChinaVine with a group of students that participate in a Mandarin Club that meets after school at Oak Hill.  ”My students were very excited to learn about Chinese culture through the ChinaVine website. They love being able to easily interact with the material by clicking on a picture to receive more information on a topic, and especially like watching and learning more from the videos, ”  explained Ying Xin. In particular, Ying Xin’s students found the content on Beijing Kites, Bows & Arrows, Masks, the Sister Meal Festival of the Juizhou Village and the Zhujiajiao Water Village to be most interesting.

We are very excited for our new website to launch next term, which will provide several more opportunities for interactive learning and new ways for teachers to integrate ChinaVine into the classroom. Stay tuned!