arts

Calligraphy Club begins spring callout



Bright red strips of paper, ink and brushes were scattered on the multiple tables arranged in Cedar Hall at Union Street Center.

The Chinese Calligraphy Club’s callout meeting on Friday taught the basic techniques of the ancient art.

Senior Seraph Zhang demonstrated the proper way to hold a calligraphy brush.

Zhang held the brush vertically between the middle and ring fingers, not too far above where the bristles point down.

The thumb and index fingers pinch gently above the other two fingers, and the pinky joins the ring finger.

“Think of holding an egg between your hand and the brush,” Zhang said.
Workshops for the club will take place every Friday.

They are open to students and community members with an interest in learning Chinese calligraphy.

This semester, workshops will focus on the Four Arts of the Chinese Scholar.

These include Chinese chess, also called “qi,” lute playing, ink painting and calligraphy.

Junior Lucia Zhu, the club’s former president, said the club is a supplement to some students’ studies.

“A lot of students are majoring in Chinese or Asian culture, and then they come here to learn how to write Chinese characters,” Zhu said. “Sometimes, we can teach them about culture or Chinese traditions.”

At the callout meeting, participants made chun lian decorations.

A temporary adornment, chun lian is poetry couplets written in Chinese calligraphy on strips of red paper.

The poems generally have a theme of good tidings for spring, and the red paper represents festivity.

Chun lian is most commonly associated with the Chinese Spring Festival and New Year.

The calligraphy is hung on each side of a doorway.

A final strip, smaller than the other two, summarizes the poem and is hung above the doorway.

Recurrent characters displayed on the chun lian included the symbols for “happiness,” “fulfillment” and the year of the horse.

Junior Dani Nie, the club’s current president, said practicing calligraphy is centering.
“Personally, calligraphy is like meditation because of how much I focus on my hand,” Nie said.

In order to excel in the art of calligraphy, Nie said students need to practice at home.
Club mentors teach basic and advanced calligraphy techniques.

Although the practice of Chinese calligraphy can be difficult, Zhu said the club maintains a fun environment that is still conducive to learning.

A teacher will often create a character in which the students must try their best to replicate.

Generally, the teacher’s representation is presented in red ink for students to trace.
Learning the art involves rigorous practice, which eventually progresses into individual expression.

The objective of the art is to creatively and legibly reproduce Chinese characters with the use of a brush pen, ink, inkstone and paper.

Ideally, students with little time on their hands can pick up the basics of the art.

The club also provides a forum for exhibition and participates in Bloomington art events, such as the Apoem Festival and the Lotus Blossom Bazaar.

Members meet with local calligraphers that are not necessarily affiliated with IU and exhibit their works for children in grade school.

The club is financed largely through art exhibitions and competitions it enters.

Zhang said the club is a great means for alleviating stress.

“I feel very peaceful when practicing,” Zhang said. “It calms me down.”

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