Sunday, March 14, 2010

Twenty Years in America

Twenty years in America - great lakes cherry blossom

By Lihting Li Kostrzewa

This is the year I celebrate my twentieth year in America. I have thought that the best way to celebrate is to design an art exhibition with a theme that combines my Chinese background and my adopted home – the great lakes region. Growing up in Taiwan the “plum blossom” is not only our national flower but also the most depicted flower through Chinese culture. A cherry blossom looks almost like a plum blossom however the cherry requires a colder climate. Growing up in the semi-tropical island of Taiwan, I learned how to paint the plum blossom since I was a young girl. However, I had not seen the cherry blossom until I came to northern Michigan. The northern Michigan cherry blossoms are equally beautiful for artistic purposes.

Followings are seven paintings with title “Great Lakes Cherry Blossom#1 - #7” to depict seven different natural themes of great lakes; cloudy, foggy, frosty, rainy, evening, sunset and snow.
Great Lakes Cherry Blossom #1 - cloudy

Great Lakes Cherry Blossom #2 - foggy

Great Lakes Cherry Blossom #3 - frosty

Great Lakes Cherry Blossom #4 - rainy

Great Lakes Cherry Blossom #5 - evening

Great Lakes Cherry Blossom #6 - sunset

Great Lakes Cherry Blossom #7 - snow

Twenty years ago I was a public school art teacher, and served as an art education director for the thirteen junior high schools of my school district. I held a tenure job, bought a four story condo near a beautiful beach harbor and looked to retirement as most teachers in my school did. However, I was twenty-five years old, longing for the adventure of a life experience, desiring to be an artist and seeing the world in full. One day the opportunity came. A letter from Ohio State University invited me to be a student in its American language program. I packed two suitcases with only two sentences of English I started my new adventure in life.

Going through the ups and downs of life in a foreign country, I was not only learning a different language and a different culture, but also a different logic of thinking. All by God’s grace I received two more advanced art degrees, MA and MFA. After finding all kinds of pay jobs, I have moved around Ohio, Michigan, Illinois, Texas and Pennsylvania, and eventually settled in Michigan. For a short period of time I was living on a $20 per week food budget and understanding what its mean to be a starving artist. I thought about giving up my art many times. Especially during the time I had three babies in four years. Through a straight seven years of day and night changing diapers and feeding bottles I thought the art world has been far forgotten. But a voice for making art keeps coming back to me. I guess the calling to be an artist since I was nine years old has buried in my sub consciousness. I just need to believe myself. Today I am pleased to announce my new cross-cultural art exhibition – great lakes cherry blossom. From March 10 to April 21, 2010, 7am to 2:30pm, Mon-Sun, at Stacker’s Grill, 4132 N. Saginaw Rd., Midland, Michigan. (across from Dow High School, a breakfast place for locals)
Art Exhibit Video