Ask a layman to find beauty in a gourd, and you may be met with a blank stare. Practical uses often come up in conversation.
“What about using them as water dippers? I know people used to do that.”
When more artistic ideas are suggested we tend to lean on what we’ve seen personally.
“My grandma has a birdhouse made out of a gourd. She painted flowers on it.”
And we tend to overlook entirely a group of gourds used for food. Watermelon, squash, and even cucumbers fall into the Cucurbitaceae (gourd) family.
For visiting artists from China and the United States, gourds are an art form in themselves.
Bringing Gourd Culture to Missouri State
Missouri State University holds an important partnership with Qufu Normal University. Qufu is located in the Shandong province. It’s probably most well-known in the west for being the birthplace of Confucius, the famous Chinese scholar and philosopher. The village is also famed for its gourd culture.
The Beauty of Eastern Gourds
Written record of gourd art first appeared during the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) when history books traced the art form as far back as the Tang Dynasty (618-907). The art was originally created on the gourds themselves. Ornate carvings, paintings, and polish were used to tell a story. Common themes include festivals, landscapes, and the beauty of daily life.
Artists today have expanded upon the original works, and continue to create art with gourds as their canvas. Others explore the beauty of the natural world on canvas, paper, or silk, creating inspiring still life paintings featuring gourds and the beautiful blooms from which they grow.
Experience the Artist’s Harvest
Gourd art will be featured at the Morris Center during December’s First Friday ArtWalk. Missouri State’s partners at Qufu Normal have shared their work for the event.
A special exhibit will be displayed during the Qufu Normal partner delegation visit. University officials will offer remarks on the art as well as our partnership.