The ‘Dragons on the Move’ arts residency project (Calgary, AB) focused on 2 areas at once: Chinese culture and storytelling through image and word. I used a 17th C description of a dragon as a starting point for the students. The description draws on various other animals to make up a dragon such as ‘scales like a fish’, ‘muzzle like a donkey’, or ‘beard like a man’. We set out folders with images of snakes, fish, elephants, etc. so the students could look at these images as reference. Important to the project was to not show any images of Chinese Dragons before they created their own from the word descriptions. They also wrote their own stories about their dragons; where they lived (air, water…), what they were doing, and about their character. The results were wonderfully fresh and imaginative as well as informative for the children in a fun and engaging way.
The dragons being flat on one side were designed to hang on a wall. Each one was between 15″ to 20″ long. The colours came from overlapping tissue papers and the details from oil pastels.
Dragon Description, pp 92-96: Sze, Mai-Mai. The Way of Chinese Painting: Its ideas and Technique. New York, Vintage Books (Random House, Inc.), 1959