Lunar New Year: Celebrating the Year of the Ox

Family festivals at the Seattle Asian Art Museum connect families with performances, art activities, and other programming related to SAM’s Asian art collection. While our Asian Art Museum remains closed, families at home can make art and learn more about Asian art, as well as our wonderful community partners.

Lunar New Year typically falls sometime between January 21 and February 20 each year. The holiday, which marks the first new moon of the lunisolar calendar, is celebrated in many places throughout Asia and in Seattle. In past years, SAM has celebrated Lunar New Year with families at the Seattle Asian Art Museum in February. The event has featured performances from Hengda Dance Academy, Mak Fai Kung Fu & Lion Dance Team, Junhong Kung Fu Club, and more. In addition to these performances, Seattle-based teaching artists have led original art activities for attendees throughout the day.

Although we won’t be celebrating at the Seattle Asian Art Museum in person this year, we’re excited to present a video from Ray Yang, one of our past Lunar New Year Family Festival teaching artists, that leads families through an activity at home. Thanks to a grant from the Freeman Foundation, SAM is able to provide a limited amount of art kits to families completing this activity at home! If you would like to receive a free art kit in the mail, please send your name and mailing address with the subject line “Lunar New Year” to FamilyPrograms@seattleartmuseum.org by February 28, 2021.

ART ACTIVITY: THE GREAT RACE AND COMICS

For ages 6-10+

About the Chinese Zodiac

The Year of the Ox began yesterday, February 12. The ox is one of twelve animals in the Chinese zodiac. Ever wonder how the order of the animals in the Chinese zodiac were determined? One of the most popular legends relates the tale of a great race decreed by the Jade Emperor to decide the order of the animals. Learn a bit more about the race and how to draw three of the animals in the race: the ox, the rat, and the tiger, the first three animals in the cycle. We will then create a story with the three of them as a comic strip! The great race is an important part of Chinese history, and understanding the story and how it shapes the zodiac is important. But it’s also fun to create stories that play with different outcomes or paths that the characters could have taken. That’s what we can do as artists today.

Materials

  • Paper
  • Pencil
  • Extension: Construction paper, scissors, glue stick, markers, googly eyes.

Steps

To create our comic, we will use a few important comic concepts: Characters, Panels, Setting, Dialogue, and Action!

  1. Characters: Begin by drawing the ox. Next up is the rat. And finally the tiger! Now that you’ve got the three characters down, show them in a series of three panels as part of the race.
  2. Panels and setting: Comic artists use panels with borders to contain the action in their drawings — sometimes the action even breaks out of the panels! What setting do you put the characters in? Are they racing across a river like the great race story? Do they race through the streets of Seattle instead? Or on a race course?
  3. Dialogue: What about dialogue? That’s the words that the characters say to each other. Is there conversation between the animals? Comic artists often contain these words in word balloons! Draw some balloons for your dialogue!
  4. Action: And finally, what is the action that’s taking place? How do they end up as the first three finishers? Or maybe they finish in a different order in your race. You get to decide the story!

Extension: Create a paper ox, rat, and tiger out of paper! The process is similar to the creation of our drawings, except you will be creating these shapes with cut paper. You can then glue the cut shapes onto a background or setting to create a scene, or even move them around as paper doll type figures to act out different race outcomes.

– Yaoyao Liu, SAM Museum Educator

Photo: Jen Au

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