Ben Wang Short Course: Calligraphy

Ben Wang Short Course: Calligraphy
The Unique Chinese Characters & Art of Calligraphy
3 session short course by Ben Wang

3 evenings @ 6:30-8:30 pm
Thursday, November 29
Tuesday, December 4
Tuesday, December 11

• $180 members / $200 non-members
COURSE FULL. Contact Program for Waiting List.

• Free for K-12 Public School Teachers
COURSE FULL. Contact Program for Waiting List.
Questions? Contact Yanjie Song at [email protected], 212.744. 8181, ext. 141

Since the beginning of time, Man has been pursuing art and beauty. Artists and poets in the world have always been fascinated by how realism can, or must, be transformed into magic. (Tennessee Williams’ Streetcar is a perfect elaboration on the subject.) The Chinese artists’ and scholars’ ardent pursuit of art and beauty and their indefatigable search for a way to elevate realism to magic are none the more evident than in calligraphy, in that they transform crude images bearing close likeness to the real into forms of high art.

In each Chinese written character lies a picture of logic, profundity, humanity, humor, melancholy, hilarity, or social phenomenon. For this reason, calligraphy (art of writing and beauty of the written words), along with classical poetry, has since the nascency of Chinese culture been held in the highest esteem by the literati and members of the intelligentsia of China.

There are in total 5 calligraphic styles: The Oracle standing for antiquity in the closest semblance between pictographs and characters; the Seal for formality, ceremoniousness, and grandeur; the Clerical for documentary somberness and rigor; Running for ease and calmness; Cursive for bravura, bravado, unrestraint, abandon or carefreeness – all depending on the artist’s mood to accompany and thematize the painting and poetry he is creating.

All of the above-stated culminates in the art of calligraphy that is at once viscerally captivating and cerebrally evocative. Being able to appreciate the art of calligraphy is a joy to every person of learning.

In these 3 sessions, before the basic strokes are taught, the pictographic and philosophical concept based on which the characters were created will be presented. Discussion on the basic strokes will be followed by introduction to the different ways to write and distinguish the different calligraphic styles, and finally how to appreciate fine calligraphy, as how it differs from the common and plain writing of the Chinese characters.

For K-12 educators of visual arts, Chinese language and social studies, this content-based lecture series will introduce vocabularies, concepts and techniques to develop a deeper understanding and appreciation of Chinese calligraphy as a unique art form of Chinese written language while build cultural, historical and linguistic connections.

6 CTLE hours are available for New York State K-12 educators through the partnership with Social Studies Supervisors Association – NYC.

This workshop series is made possible through the generous support of Confucius Institute at China Institute.


Ben Wang, Senior Lecturer in Language and Humanities at China Institute, Co-Chair of the Renwen Society of China Institute, and Instructor of Chinese at the United Nations Language Program. An award-winning published translator, Ben Wang has taught and lectured on the Chinese language, calligraphy, and classical Chinese literature at Yale, Columbia, Barnard, Williams, U.C. Berkeley, the Smithsonian, the National Gallery of Art, Lincoln Center, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Seattle Art Museum, Museum of Fine Arts of Boston, ABC Nightline, the BBC, among other academic and cultural institutions. Ben Wang taught Chinese and translation at Columbia University and New York University between 1969 and 1991.

Thursday, 11/29; Tuesday, 12/4, 12/11
Instructor: Ben Wang