Ignite Peoria is an art show that gets visitors involved – News – Journal Star – Google Alerts

PEORIA— “I like it here,” Naomi Coulter said.

The 15-year-old was sitting on a chair in front of the big red dragon that was part of the Peoria Chinese Association’s display. The stall was one of nearly a hundred at Peoria’s Civic Center, which hosted Ignite Peoria on Saturday.

“There are lots of different nationalities here,” Coulter went on, speaking in particular about the section of the Civic Center she was sitting in. The Filipino-American Society and the Chinese Association stalls were next to a stall introducing people to clogging, a type of Appalachian folk dance.

Coulter found Chinese Association’s stall at the event and decided to stay for a while.

“She started off as a stall visitor, and now she’s like a host,” said an amused Lin Yang, who was helping run the stall.

Yang said that the reason the Chinese Society had come to Ignite Peoria was to introduce people to Chinese culture. Visitors were learning how to write Chinese calligraphy. Yang’s daughters had performed a Peking opera-style dance earlier in the day. During her short stint, Coulter had learned a few words in Chinese, including “thank you.”

According to Jenn Gordon, executive director of Arts Partners of Central Illinois, the organization behind Ignite Peoria, this type of engagement is exactly the point.

“It’s very hands-on,” she said, of the event.

Instead of simply coming to look at art, people were learning how to create the art they were seeing. Children and adults sat or stood at stalls throughout the hall, painting in coffee or sculpting in clay. Workshops and performances gave people with the opportunity to learn how to clog, or listen to singers on the stage just outside the main hall. Ballerinas in sequined tutus wandered through the crowds, when they weren’t on stage performing.

“I like that it’s kind of a one-stop opportunity to see what sparks your creativity, and to see how you want to express yourself moving forward,” said Gordon. 

But there…

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