Ashima by Colette Fu

Ashima is from my series "We are Tiger Dragon People," photographic pop-up books of the ethnic minorities of Yunnan Province, China. The Sani live in and around Stone Forest. Their lives are as colorful as their embroidered clothing, and they treasure song and dance above wealth and success. Their legend of Ashima is sung from generation to generation and is an inspiration for Sani women today who refer to it as "the song of our ethics." Ashima was a young Sani girl engaged to be married to (her cousin) Ahei. Azhi, the son of the village leader, tried to force her to marry him. Azhi unleashed a trio of tigers to kill Ahei who killed the tigers with arrows and escaped unscathed. But when Ashima and Ahei were playing by a river, Azhi generated a flood and Ashima drowned and turned into river stones. Her words echoed through the forest: "I will never disappear even as the sun and cloud disappear, my soul and my sound will exist till the end of time."

Artist Bio

Colette Fu makes pop-up books using photographs from her travels around the world. After receiving an MFA in Fine Art Photography from the Rochester Institute of Technology in 2003, Fu devised opulent, complex compositions that incorporate photography and pop-up. She has designed for award winning stop motion animation commercials and freelanced for clients including Vogue China, Canon Asia and Moët Hennessy • Louis Vuitton. Her pop-up books are included in the Library of Congress, the West Collection and many private and rare archive collections. Fu recently returned from a 6 month residency in Shanghai, where she continued her "We are Tiger Dragon" project, an extensive visual exploration of China's ethnic minorities. There she also designed China's largest (1 spread) pop-up book measuring 2.5x5m. Fu's numerous awards include a Fulbright Research Fellowship to China, Independence Foundation, Leeway Foundation, Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, Puffin Foundation and Society for Photographic Education. Fu is also a passionate educator, who teaches pop-up courses and community workshops with marginalized populations at various art centers, universities and institutions nationally and internationally.