Students can learn calligraphy at Asian Heritage event

Andrew Paisley, Campus Reporter

Students can put a new twist on their own handwriting at Do Your Own Calligraphy at 1 p.m. April 11 in the Arcola-Tuscola room of the Martin Luther King Jr. University Union.

Jingxuan Wang, a Chinese student who is an expert at calligraphy, will demonstrate how to do Chinese calligraphy.

Jinhee Lee, chair of the Asian Studies department, said calligraphy is an art form that has been practiced across the globe throughout the human history, since the invention of written letters.

“Today, calligraphy is practiced widely in Asia, not only for aesthetic letter design purpose but also, perhaps more importantly, for a meditation purpose,” Lee said. “When you focus on one form of art with your whole heart, it often becomes a way to recognize greater meaning in life that you might not have a chance to realize otherwise.”

Lee came up with the idea to host Do Your Own Calligraphy when she was inspired by her niece’s calligraphy design that was done with a ballpoint pen.

“The design spoke to me her sense of beauty and feelings,” Lee said.

Lee said she approached foreign languages professor Ximing Kronenfeld to help brainstorm ideas for a cultural event on China and the Chinese language.

After coming up with the calligraphy idea, Lee and Kronenfeld collaborated to seek funding to turn the event into a “do your own” session involving students who are in the Chinese language class as co-hosts.

“Our goal is to serve our university community members to have an enjoyable opportunity to experience what it is like to do classical calligraphy using a brush to design and practice some simple Chinese characters,” Lee said. “I strongly recommend everyone to come and experience what doing calligraphy feels like, especially the classical form of calligraphy as we will show how to use a traditional brush and ink on a specialized paper for this purpose.”

Lee said historical evidence shows that people in East Asia used letters already back in the B.C. era with a tremendous sense of religious awe and respect.

“I hope in the era where letters are used to express our feelings and meanings so easily and at times too casually, this event can help all of us to be a better communicator and also to be more interested in learning about other languages such as Chinese on our campus,” Lee said.

Kronenfeld said she chose the idea of calligraphy for an event because it is something she did in her class and her students really liked it.

“My students have been practicing very hard to learn to write Chinese characters in proper form,” Kronenfeld said. “They can write hundreds of Chinese characters.”

Chinese characters are one of the most unique features of the Chinese language, and they are also used in other Asian languages such as Japanese, Korean and Vietnamese, Kronenfeld said.

“The characters look complex and expressive,” Kronenfeld said. “Each character carries a unique meaning, not just a sound, and the art form of Chinese calligraphy mixes visual art with meaning, a kind of visual poetry.”

Andrew Paisley can be reached at 581-2812 or at [email protected].