Several months after moving to TEDA I went with a small group of friends to a tea house. It was located on the first floor of an apartment building, only a five minute walk from my home. Outside were a few Chinese characters: on my own I never would have found it. Inside hung several scrolls, and a carved table that took up most of the room. The back room had a large table, brushes and ink.
The owner had grown up studying calligraphy, tea, and tai qi, each of which, he explained, used the same motions. Sometimes he served tea, and sometimes he taught children shu fa (calligraphy.)
I started to go on Saturdays to study: several cups of oolong tea, followed by practicing the various strokes.
Untitled, 2010, Scroll
Amharic, 2010, Mixed Media
My own language, Amharic, has its unique script: over 200 letters. I had previously used Amharic as an element in my wood and ink works. Studying calligraphy made me want to explore compositions that used both Chinese characters and the Amharic alphabet.
There are always differences in cultures. It’s the similarities and parallels that I’ve enjoyed using in my art.
April, Tai Feng Park, 2010
Mixed Media on Canvas
In April the days would slowly warm up, and then, without warning, the trees would explode in joy.
First the pinks, then the yellows, then the whites.
The flowering trees, the kite and toy sellers, and families out for the first breath of warmth all made for everchanging views.