by Joy Gipson
TRINIDAD — A reception was held for visiting author and artist Wang Ping on Sunday, March 13, at the Gallery Main, 130 E. Main Street in Trinidad. In addition to being an artist and author she is a photographer, poet, dancer, singer, and a professor of English at Macalester, an undergraduate liberal arts college in St. Paul, Minnesota.
Wang was born in Shanghai, China and came to the United States in 1986. She is founder and director of the Kinship of Rivers project that builds a sense of kinship among the people who live along the Mississippi river and the Yangtze river in China, through exchanging gifts of art, poetry, stories, music and food. She paddles along the Mississippi River and its tributaries, giving poetry and art workshops among the river communities, focusing on making thousands of prayer flags as peace ambassador’s between the Mississippi and Yangtze river people.
In her many travels, she encourages people to decorate the prayer flags that she plans to take to Mt. Everest in May 2016, where she will leave them hanging in the open with thousands of prayer flags from all over the world. Wang has collected over 3000 flags created by people from the ages of 6 weeks to 96 years. The mother of the infant imprinted her child’s footprint on a flag. Inmates of a women’s prison in Lima, Peru have contributed flags to Wang’s collection.
Prayer flags are a colorful rectangle of cloth decorated with symbols and prayers for peace, compassion and healing of our peoples, countries and the planet Earth. They are mounted on a long rope and strung out in open spaces where the wind can carry the prayers to the Higher Powers of the Universe. The flags are considered sacred and treated with respect.
Some of Ping’s publications are, “Life of Miracles,” a memoir of the Mississippi and Yangtze rivers (forthcoming), a book of poetry, “Ten Thousand Waves,” “The Last Communist Virgin,” a book of stories that won the 2008 Minnesota Book Award and Asian American Studies Award, and “Aching for Beauty: Foot Binding in China” that won the Eugene Kayden Award for Best Book in Humanities.