In 2015, I flew to China for a month residency at Lijiang Studio in Yunnan Province. At this time, I was well into my breathwork training and beginning to unpack and reclaim emotional ownership over the Chinese half of my ancestry. I had never been to the Southwest, and my perception of China had formed through the specific lense of my family in Beijing.
Lijiang Studio resides on the He Family property and their farm near Lashihai or Lashi Lake, which is a biodiverse wetlands in view of the famous Jade Dragon Snow Mountain. All of the artists and visitors sleep in the rooms of the courtyard adjacent to the family. We share meals and have access to a composting toilet and solar-heated showers.
In my first week, I built a rudimentary loom and began to experiment with creating warps. The spiritual culture of the Naxi Dongba traditions have origins in Tibetan Bon and, in the spirit of nonsensical diversification, I began weaving according to French tapestry techniques and Saori philosophy from my teachers in Philadelphia. I made a first attempt to weave a Tibetan knot, which is also a familiar symbol to Naxi Dongba priests. As time passed, I moved into different spaces and improved my warping technique.
I also shadowed Frog Wing who is an artist and a modern shaman in NYC. She assists with translation and to facilitate projects with Lijiang Studio artists in residence. I was interested in her creative documentation and performative ritual work. Together we traveled around Yunnan Province, and had the good fortune to attend a days-long Naxi wedding celebration in rural Tacheng. We talked, contemplated, and worked on our respective ideas. I also met Fine Fine Small Mountain, Jennifer Torrence, and Crystal Pascucci who were friends, musicians, activists, and composers joining forces for composition, performance work, and experimentation.