To coincide with Asian History Month in May, the exhibition "Sky Sculptures: Traditional Kites of Asia" will be on view through May 13 in the city of Upper Arlington's Concourse Gallery at the Municipal Services Center, 3600 Tremont Road.

To coincide with Asian History Month in May, the exhibition "Sky Sculptures: Traditional Kites of Asia" will be on view through May 13 in the city of Upper Arlington's Concourse Gallery at the Municipal Services Center, 3600 Tremont Road.

"Sky Sculptures" features 50 kites from eight Asian countries: China, Korea, India, Taiwan, The Philippines, Japan, Indonesia and Laos. Kite-flying tournaments are major events in many of the countries represented in the exhibit, said curator Yasue Sakaoka.

"It's a good way of binding the community," said Sakaoka, a Japanese-born artist, Columbus resident and one of the organizers of the annual Asian Festival in Franklin Park. "Parents come out, professionals come out, visitors come out."

"Sky Sculptures" features the work of internationally acclaimed artist Jingfei Li, who resides in the Yunnan Province of China.

Yunnan kites are well-known for their unique designs, which contrast with traditional social customs of conformity.

Li describes her work as, "A mirror that reflects the feelings, thoughts and beliefs, fears and experiences that we all share in humanity. The subjects of my creations are the relationships between ourselves and the environments we are connected to. It is a privilege to combine elements of vibrancy through color, humor and technique."

Kites have a special significance beyond mere recreation in many Asian cultures, Sakaoka said.

In Korea, for example, "they're used to keep away evil spirits," she said. "They're associated with superstition."

In Indonesia, kites have a more practical purpose and are used for fishing.

"Fish are attracted by these moving things," Sakaoka said.

The kites in the "Sky Sculptures" exhibit have intricate designs and many are in the shapes of animals, insects and mythological creatures such as butterflies and dragons. The Laotian kites in the exhibit are shaped like birds.

Flying handmade kites is often a family activity in Asian cultures, Sakaoka said.

"Parents like to make kites and children like to fly them," she said.

"Sky Sculptures" is just one of a variety of programs, workshops and other cultural events planned for schools in Upper Arlington and around central Ohio during Asian History Month.

The exhibit is on view at the Concourse Gallery in collaboration with the city of Upper Arlington Cultural Arts Division, Ohio State University's Institute for Chinese Studies, Wright State University's Asian/Hispanic/Native American Center, the Drachen Foundation and the Ohio Arts Council.

Exhibit hours are Monday-Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.; admission is free.