The Year of the Horse

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Work and play at the same time

To celebrate the Lunar New Year, a diversity of UBC Learning Exchange program participants came together to create a magnificent tin, brass and copper horse lantern from recycled materials. The lantern took shape under the direction of artists Heather Dawn Jones and Jason Paularitis, supported by the Community Arts Council of Vancouver. Input from seniors of the Chinese community was also vital, and the project was a truly multicultural collaboration, also including ESL learners, Drop-in patrons and UBC student volunteers, who worked collectively to complete the project.

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The horse’s wire frame

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All lit up at Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden

The project was given increased importance and relevance by Chinese seniors, who incorporated Chinese symbols onto pieces of the horse. By integrating their traditions and wisdom into the work, they were able to share specific and invaluable knowledge. Some of the workshops that helped build the lantern were completely non-verbal, due to participants having no common language. Regardless, communication never seemed to be a problem. The art making process was a common purpose that transcended differences and translated gestures, nods, looks and touches into meaningful exchanges. The experience brought together a broad variety of participants, breaking down stereotypes and building connections through communal efforts.

The culmination of the project came at the Winter Solstice Lantern Festival, where the feeling of the whole project shone as brightly as the horse lantern itself. The horse lantern also took part in the Chinatown New Year parade and was on display in Vancouver during February and March.