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Master calligrapher Bin Zhou gives lecture
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Master calligrapher Bin Zhou gives lecture 8 years, 5 months ago #572

  • dingpuzhao
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Sponsored by the Asian Studies Program and The Chinese Bridge Project, Professor Bin Zhou gave a lecture on Monday at 4:10 p.m. in Maginnes Hall about calligraphy.

In his lecture, Zhou shared his knowledge on the historical development of calligraphy as well as the proper practice of the art and the composition of the tools involved. At the end of the lecture, he demonstrated by writing multiple phrases, including Lehigh in Mandarin. He is not an English speaker so Zhou conducted the entire presentation through a translator.

As a renowned teacher of calligraphy, Professor Zhou runs the class "Brush With Peace" at Lehigh. The university's website describes the calligraphy class as a means to "achieve a state of inner balance and well-being through the practice of Chinese calligraphy… the art of balancing white and black space to create Chinese words."

Zhou's presentation began with him showing the works of his "Brush With Peace" students, which were posted up around the room. The calligraphy displays belonged to freshmen, sophomores, junior and seniors of a vast array of majors such as political science, computer science, civil engineering, international relations and history.

The lecture continued with a power point presentation. The first slide read, "Chinese calligraphy is the art of fine hand writing which is generally recognized as the art of Chinese bamboo brush work." Holding a calligraphy brush, Zhou explained the differences between the Western brush and the brush used in calligraphy and how all strands of the brush must come together. "Use the tip like a ballet dancer," he cautioned.

Zhou moved on, spending the bulk of the lecture detailing the history of Chinese characters. He showed a picture of what looked like cave man drawings, telling the room that this is what today's Chinese characters evolved from. He explained that the strongpoint of Chinese calligraphy is that the easiest way to develop characters is to just draw pictures and "imitate the natural phenomenon". The characters have gotten more abstract because, Zhou said, as the understanding of a concept evolves so does the character. Those in attendance found out why calligraphy is not just a practice of writing out words but a discipline of art.

The last idea that Zhou discussed was the expansiveness of calligraphy as a tool for communication. He explained that a reader should understand more than just what the characters say by gaining insight from how they were written. "The most important thing is if the calligrapher can give a sensibility to you," Zhou said, "The sense of flowing water… can express the change in the calligrapher's emotion." Di Kong, '14, a Chinese native, agrees that communicating through written language in this way is a unique aspect of his culture. "If I look at it from the Chinese point of view, calligraphy is like the first impression of someone where you just look at what they wrote down. So, the style and structure of what they're writing is what you get," he said.

Zhou believes this is a concept that Lehigh students are taking a growing interest in. "In 2006 I was here and taught a course that was six weeks only… and after that course I realized a lot of Lehigh students are interested in it (calligraphy)," he said, "And that's why (this semester) 76 students wanted to take the course and the administration decided to cut off at 50… so two sections. And now, in the end, we get 44 students and still have two sections."

According to Zhou, Lehigh hosts quite a few talented student calligraphers. "Based on their work, most students did very well," he said, quite modestly, "It's not that I am such a good teacher but that the students are really anxious to learn."

Professor Zhou's class, "Brush With Peace", is a two-credit course offered through the Asian Studies, Religious Studies and Modern Languages and Literature departments.
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