A Visual Examination of Chinese Han Characters and Vehicle of Dissemination

  • Postal Plaza Gallery of Oklahoma State University (February – June 2017)
  • East Asia Library of Stanford University  (September – November 2017).
  • The symposium will be held at the Lecture Hall of East Asia Library at Stanford University in October 2017.

Preview of some artwork:

Han characters (漢字) have existed for thousands of years, known as the language of Chinese (中文), and continuously intrigued speakers today to find their soul and the spirit of civilization through their writing. Unique from an etymological perspective, Han characters developed from early pictographs, inscribed on oracle bones and bamboo scripts, to their use on paper which was first invented in China for writing and printing. This has given Chinese culture an unmistakable identity with an uninterrupted written history since its infancy.  Han characters arose from the need to spread ideas in the most feasible and viable ways in a manner that was lucid and eloquent. This subsequent evolution transformed the craft of bookmaking into an art form and inspired various styles of writing, calligraphy, illustration, printing, and means of archival conservation. In the current media revolution of today, Han characters have successfully passed the test and evolved of into digitalized vehicles. This has united a diverse body of native tongues and regional dialects across geographic boundaries in acknowledging their past, celebrating the present and aspiring to the future.

This exhibition places emphasis on our curiosity for visual metaphors embedded in the images of Han characters and on the adaptation of this language in culturally and historically confined communication modes.  The Exhibition Committee wishes to invite artworks for a visual display that may question, imagine, fantasize, envisage, or contemplate a terrain of transmitting vehicles that challenge or reconfirm the existence of the Han characters.  There will be no limit on styles, media or presentation modes of works displayed in the exhibition; these are open to artists’ interpretations of the subject and concepts proposed by the exhibition organizer.  In creating this exhibition, we attempt to present a comparison between pictographic Han characters and alphabetically structured languages, and to generate an interactive dialog between the artists and public audiences.  We hope this exhibition will promote an interest in the Chinese language and through sharing different cultural experiences, will raise an awareness of the global issues that we confront today.

The exhibition of Words in Characters, Books as Vehicle is a project of the Across the Divide Scholarly Series, a forum run by The Chinese Artists in American Academia.  For this project, the Exhibition Committee will initiate an open call for the submission of artworks from Chinese artists who teach and research in American universities. From a careful review of all artwork submitted for the call, two distinguished Jurors (pending) will select the work for the exhibition with consultation from the Exhibition Committee. The Exhibition Committee will then invite a number of individual artists outside of the university communities to participate, based on a selection of their artworks pertinent to the theme of this exhibition.

Scheduled along with this exhibition, a symposium will be held on the theme of Aesthetic Influences of the Chinese Han Characters in Contemporary Art. The Exhibition Committee will invite participating artists and scholars make presentations during the symposium and submit their essays for publications. The themes for this symposium and publication will encourage artists and scholars to focus on their personal experiences of acquiring, learning, writing, translating the Han Characters in relation to their artworks of articulating or utilizing various forms of communication vehicles. Our goal is to seek fresh thinking and interpretations of cross-cultural issues in works of art and to provide the public with an opportunity for open discussions on visual textures of being Chinese-ness within the perception of world culture.

The Exhibition Committee provides the following requirements for the submission of artworks:

1          Artworks submitted should address the concept proposed in this exhibition proposal.

2          No limits on artistic styles and form of representations or presentation.

3          All media are welcome.

4          Due to the condition of exhibition space, works submitted for this exhibition should meet the size requirement of 12” X 12” X 12” in all direction.

The Exhibition Committee may consider accepting the artworks with special dimensions, and the artist who requires consideration should contact Dr. Shaoqian Zhang for the Exhibition Committee’s approval and special arrangement for the display. 

5          Upon the acceptance of artwork, the artist shall be responsible for the packaging and delivery/shipping of artwork to the gallery.

6          It is the artist’s responsibility to provide insurance for the artwork in transit to the gallery.

7          During the exhibition, no artworks shall be withdrawn from the exhibition.

8          Should a piece of artwork be sold, the Forum of Across the Divide would like to encourage the artist’s contribution of 30% of the sale to the Fund of Chinese Artists in American Academia.

This exhibition will be held at the Postal Plaza Gallery of Oklahoma State University (February – June 2017) and at the East Asia Library of Stanford University  (September – November 2017). The symposium will be held at the Lecture Hall of East Asia Library at Stanford University in October 2017.

The Juror Panel

Xu Bing (tentative)

Julia Andrews (tentative)

Christopher Reed (Tentative)

The Curatorial Committee

Shaoqian Zhang, the Executive Producer of the exhibition

Yu Ji, Assistant Curator

The Taskforce Committees

Yingxue Zuo

Xiaohong Zhang

Rebecca Ruige Xu

Xiaomiao Wang

Hongtao Zhou

(Subcommittees may need to be established in areas of Newsletter and Publicity, Website management, Graphic Design (catalog), Publication, Grant Writing, Fund Raising and etc. )

Participation in this event constitutes the artist‘s recognition of the spirit and principles that we uphold for the Forum of Across the Divide. To promote scholarly exchanges and advocate artistic interactions among the Chinese artists in American universities, the Forum’s Executive Committee has devoted itself to the professional operation of this public, non–profit scholarly platform; therefore, the Committee, representing the Association of Chinese Artists in American Academia (ACAAA), would like to encourage membership applications from participating artists and scholars and their contribution to the Forum.

The Concept of The Forum of Across the Divide was originated in 1997. With history and a record of scholarly accomplishments, The Association of Chinese Artists in American Academia (ACAAA) is an independent organization that has no working relationship with or professional connection to any other associations alike or similar in names. The ACAAA membership offers the privileges of displaying artwork in the Forum’s website, receiving newsletters, announcing professional accomplishments for publicity, and the opportunity of taking a part in the Forum’s upcoming activities. The Executive Committee welcomes proposals from members in planning the Forum’s future events. Once a member proposes and accomplishes a scholarly project, the person will qualify to serve on the Executive Committee and be eligible to participate in the Forum’s decision making under the guidelines of the Chinese Artists in American Academia.