Amazing day at Muhsiang!
I wrote a long spiel on the reasons for conducting a workshop around Day of the Dead in my last post when we hosted this in ChingChuan (read here). Learning about a new culture, celebrating the lives of loved ones who have passed, taking a chance to also understand cultural appropriation, were just a few reasons. Previously I had tried to get lessons going for kids at the children’s home on the subject of permaculture. This was rejected as they were not interested and did not see how plants were relevant to their lives. I was a bit taken back on this as how would we survive if plants, growing food, was not only relevant, but essential to life itself? This also was a point of contradiction as many groups now offer tours to farms but it’s more or less pegged as a half-day trip to a greener amusement park. Potted plants seemed to be a fun way to bring green back in another fashion. It was also a way for kids to become less afraid of death and skulls, knowing that the cycle of life continues.
This being the second consecutive Day of the Dead workshop, I made some slight changes so kids would have more time to focus on beautifying their pots. We began with Sara, who kindly lent me her laptop and also translated, the presentation on the background of Day of the Dead and how the passing of our loved ones is celebrated elsewhere.
Grace handed out print outs she made of some classic Day of the Dead skull designs. Kids were encouraged to check these for references and complete several drawings that fused this with their personal touches. They decided on their favorite one to draw onto the pots. For those who lacked inspiration, we simply asked a few questions and guided them into the realm where ‘anything is possible’ even adding in a few acorns.
We took a break to enjoy a delicious snack of freshly made chili by Sophie and her kitchen helper. Featuring gorgeous colors and an aroma to swoon fir, it was a feast for the taste buds, nose, as well as the eyes. Pumpkin pie was a very US-centric treat that I brought along just to spice things up!
Due to the time constraints this time we let kids select already baked skull charms and dab glue and sequins on, permanent markers to add in more design features here and there. This gave us some time while the pots dried. When they completed a necklace (or two) they could then head to their pots and got to pick their favorite marigold plants and Sara introduced how to take care of these, even adding basic fertilizers such as egg shells, coffee grounds, banana peels.
My fears of the kids being fearful of the skulls turned out to be unfounded. When kids started finding a spot for their completed flower Day of the Dead pots, some children hung their skull charm around the marigolds for décor. One emphatically told another to be sure that their plant looks beautiful so it can attract the spirits. Marigolds with their vibrant color and strong scent, is the flower of choice for Day of the Dead for this very purpose. We had a wonderful workshop and are excited to be back this December 14th.
Thank you MuHsiang Children’s Home, Sara Chien, Sophie Hsu, Grace Hsu, 鄭又綺, Yifan Chen, Chloe Wu, Ripper Tsou, Jeff Yang.
Thank you YuTing Hung for supporting our workshop.
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All photo images courtesy of 鄭又綺.
Event callout : https://wp.me/p326jt-14E
Date/Time 日期 ／時間：
November 2nd, 2014 (Sunday) 13:30 – 16:30
地點Location: 睦祥育幼院 MuHsiang Children’s Home
目的 Purpose: 透過藝術及照護植物的方式介紹不同的文化給大家Introduce a new culture holiday and a different way to look at “life” to everyone through plants and art.
孩子會學Children will learn:
A new culture, Day of the Dead, basic plant care