HomeCommunity NewsCrowell Library Is Hosting Chinese Floral Arts Display

Crowell Library Is Hosting Chinese Floral Arts Display

Photographs of various Chinese floral art arrangements hang at San Marino’s Crowell Public Library. Photos by Mitch Lehman

The artistry and meditation that is involved in the Chinese floral arts is now on display in a photography and mixed media exhibition at San Marino’s Crowell Public Library. Involving former San Marino Unified School District Board Member and Chinese Floral Arts Foundation USA Charter President Rosa Zee, the show runs through Sept. 13 with an educational reception set for the last day from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m.

The art of Chinese floral arrangement can be traced to the Tang Dynasty around 1,500 years ago as a temple offering, according to Zee. The flowers graced altars and served as part of the worship ceremonies. Scholars also arranged flowers as part of a daily ceremony to wake up the five senses and welcome the start of the day before they moved on to music, calligraphy and other studies.

“Every morning they would wake up, they would do four things: the first thing is changing a painting, burning incense, brewing tea and arranging flowers,” Zee told The Tribune.

The changing of a painting on a wall stimulated the mind with the different view; incense awakened the sense of smell; tea touched on taste and smell with fragrance and the flowers encouraged connection to nature. The floral arrangement started with the simple act of clipping the flowers and branches from the source.

“When they’re clipping these vegetations from the gardens, the senses of the season change,” said Zee. “They get to know what seasons grow what kinds of flowers. So they understand the nature. They belong to part of nature.”

Zee said the Chinese art of floral arrangement is part of a long-lost art that has recently experienced a resurgence over the past 35 years. She initially learned the art two decades ago and after retirement, she traveled to Taiwan to become certified as a floral master. The exhibition is a part of her mission to promote the art.

In 2015, the foundation brought to town a floral artist from Taiwan and held a lecture and demonstration with live flowers. Despite the vivid beauty of the flowers in the flesh, Zee admitted that the art form had limitations in that after three days, the petals wilt and are no longer able to be exhibited.

In an effort to share the core basics of the art with more people over a longer time frame, she coordinated with floral artist Wen-Li and photographer Joe Chang to compile images from Taiwan, while she also compiled floral arrangements stateside and worked with local photographer Bill Youngblood.

The exhibition features 13 photos based on four distinct floral arrangement styles (realistic, intellectual, expressionist and formative) in six various containers (vase, dish, jar, bowl, cylindrical tube and basket). There are informational pamphlets to share further insight into the art. Also included are mixed media arrangements with incense and hanging tea bags, as a nod to the scholars’ process of awakening the senses.

The last day of the show on Sept. 13 from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. will feature a meet and greet, lecture, idea exchange and live demonstration with Zee. Anyone interested in getting started in the Chinese floral arts or learning more is encouraged to attend. RSVPs are encouraged and should be sent to chinesefloralarts@gmail.com.

To learn more about the Chinese Floral Arts Foundation USA Charter, visit “Chinese Floralarts” on Facebook.com or @chinesestylefloralart on Instagram.com.

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