“Understanding the Spirit of the Chinese Garden” will be the topic of the Feb. 14 Lunch & Learn program at the Waupaca Area Public Library.
Patricia Williams will be the presenter of the free program that begins at noon and will last about one hour.
A light lunch will be served. To make a reservation, call the library’s main desk at 715-258-4414 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Williams, of rural Iola, is a retired professor of cultural and historic design at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point. Born in Chicago, she taught art in both the Amherst and Iola-Scandinavia school districts before becoming a professor at UW-Stevens Point in 1983.
“From the time I was about 8 years old, I was interested in Chinese culture and Chinese art,” she said.
While her mother wanted her to take piano lessons and study ballet, she was more interested in taking art lessons.
Williams took art classes at the Art Institute of Chicago from her elementary through high school years.
“Our teachers would take us on gallery walks,” she said. I remember seeing the Chinese paintings and the seal marks on them.”
Used in lieu of signatures, the seals are typically in red ink.
“The instructor said all those red marks ruin the painting. I disagreed,” Williams said.
She began collecting Chinese art – her first piece was a plastic Buddha from a Cracker Jacks box.
Eventually, Williams taught cultural design, specializing in non-Western culture.
Her Feb. 14 program will be about the symbolism in Chinese gardens.
Williams, who has traveled to China four times, says, “The spirit of the Chinese garden is so much different. We look at nature in a different way. To the Chinese, mankind is part of nature. Here in the Western culture, it’s seen as being apart from (nature). That is part of what I want to explain in the presentation – there is symbolism in everything.”
In 2001, she was made a Fellow of the UW-System’s Institute for Global Studies for the joint development of a database for the UW-Madison library – Global Perspectives on Design and Culture – for use on all campuses in the UW-System.
In 2002, she received a Teacher/Scholar-in-Residence award. She continues to have an interest in Chinese culture, particularly in painted fans.
In February, many people begin to think about and plan their gardens. “Perhaps,” Williams said, “they’d like to find out what gardens are like in other parts of the world and that so many of the species in our gardens originated in China.”