Diverse Experiences in Chinese Calligraphy

January 30, 2019

Chinese Calligraphy entered its second successful year with a class nearly double the size of its inaugural cohort. The class, which teaches the technical basics of Chinese calligraphy as well as its history and cultural significance, was developed last year by Kang Zhou, a lecturer in Chinese, out of his personal interest and connection to the art form. Twenty-nine students from a variety of backgrounds—from fluent Chinese-speakers to complete novices—began the course by learning to hold a brush and worked their way through the fundamentals of Chinese calligraphy, following Zhou’s hands-on teaching method.

This year’s class also featured two guest lecturers: Miss Yanwen Tan, a student from Northeastern University, and Mr. Yike Li from Princeton University. With thirteen years of Chinese painting under her belt, Miss Tan taught the class an introduction to traditional Chinese art, guiding the students through the process of creating their own bamboo paintings. Students forged links between the brushstrokes of basic calligraphy and those used in Chinese painting, exploring the intimate connections between the two Chinese art forms.

Meanwhile, Mr. Yike Li instructed students on the history and evolution of Chinese characters and shared insight into his personal experience with calligraphy, including his favorite calligrapher Yan Zhenqing. His lecture culminated in a hands-on demonstration of the running script style, assisting students in writing the good luck character “福”.

Students worked on a variety of projects as they developed their calligraphic skills, exploring the etymology and deep history behind Chinese characters. From cards for loved ones to short videos, students had the chance to experience calligraphy in the context of a variety of mixed media—each finding their own personal strengths and styles in the process. The class culminated in a final project in which students choose a proverb or short poem to copy. Student project can be viewed on the class website.