About 150 people came to the event to celebrate the Year of the Tiger – a Chinese zodiac symbol – on the sixth day of the 15-day Spring Festival.
New artistic director of education Madeleine Delpha, who led the organization of the celebration – funded by a grant from the Massachusetts Cultural Council – said she wanted to ensure authenticity.
“I’m a white woman, so I don’t want these days to be spent on my interpretation of Lunar New Year,” she said.
With this goal of authenticity and cultural education, Delpha has partnered with the non-profit organization Cambridge Center for Chinese Culture asking them to help plan the crafts and performances.
The event included demonstrations of Chinese martial arts, including Claire Fillon, 12, who performed Jiujie Whip, as well as Zunlong Li and her son-in-law Adam Roberts who performed wushu. New Art staff members and volunteers led crafting options including Chinese red couplets as well as tiger bookmarks, mobiles and coloring pages.
Lanyu Zheng, a Mandarin teacher, professor of mathematics and deputy director of the Cambridge Chinese Culture Centre, said it was important to demonstrate the authentic “beauty of Chinese culture and the New Year”, such as the use of the lucky color red or teaching calligraphy skills.
“We want to pass on concepts to future generations,” Zheng said. “We don’t want our culture to disappear.
Rosario Hubert, a literature professor at Trinity College, came to the event with her son and her husband. She said she studied Chinese language for several years and wanted to share her interest in Chinese culture with her son.
“I’m just thrilled that people are excited about Chinese culture,” she said.
New Art Treasurer Maria Bunker brought her two sons to the event to learn about Chinese culture.
“We want them to be exposed to as many different cultures as possible,” she said.
Former Newton Councilman and current U.S. Representative Jake Auchincloss brought his son, Teddy, for a similar reason.
“I have been attending Lunar New Year events for five or six years and wanted to bring my son to experience more culture,” he said.
Rebecca Barnehama, who lives near the center and used to take her daughter Ayla there to do ceramics, said she was delighted to attend the event.
“I think the fact that they’re having free events open to people to share their cultures is great for the community,” she said. “Happy to come and support them.”
New Art offers several classes for all ages throughout the year, a children’s summer program, and other free community events. It recently hosted a Day of the Dead celebration and a Martin Luther King Jr. program celebrating black artists. The center is currently preparing for a Holi celebration and a Juneteenth event.
Delphi, New Art Director of Education, said these events are really about creating a welcoming and culturally diverse art-centric community.
“I see these community days as a way to do that, as a way of saying, ‘Look, we can celebrate your culture, we want to celebrate your culture, we want you to see yourself here and see this as a reflection on your community” — because art is culture and culture is art, and the two go hand in hand.
Delphia said she hopes they will have the funding to expand this initiative in the future.
“I think it’s a way of creating this feeling that, you know, no matter who you are, no matter what your background is and what your level of ability is, that New Art is a place where you can come and feel connected. to your community,” she said.
Taylor Coaster can be contacted at [email protected]