What did Fu learn about her Yi ancestry during her travels?
A Fulbright scholarship enabled Fu to travel throughout Yunnan province, where she spent time with the Yi, one of the 56 ethnic groups recognized in China. Fu’s mother is a member of the Black Yi caste, an aristocratic minority who are responsible for administration and military activities.
In Ashima, Fu depicts the famous Stone Forest in Yunnan, which legend associates with Ashima 阿诗玛, a Yi maiden whose name means “as precious and bright as gold.” Forced to marry someone against her will, Ashima was rescued by her true love. However, on their way home, she was drowned in a flood and turned into a rock within the Stone Forest.
The Torch Festival, held in the Stone Forest each year, commemorates Ashima’s story. In addition to song and dance, the event features the lighting of 400 torches that are paraded in the form of a dragon.
Artists at Work Video Series: Colette Fu
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Colette Fu creates sculptural pop-up books that illuminate cultures and depict myths and legends.