Stony Brook University’s Charles B. Wang Center celebrates Chinese and Korean culture through a series of workshops focusing on jewelry and pillow making, paper cutting and calligraphy. At each class, participants will learn the cultural significance of the respective art form and take home a creation of their own.
At a time when the use of touch screens, text messages and tablets has helped to minimize handwriting in the tangible form, one series hopes to bolster the old-time aesthetic.
Calligraphy is a centuries-old style of writing that takes shape differently in a range of cultures — from Arabic and Asian to Islamic and Western societies.
“The English word calligraphy literally means beautiful writing, and when you see good calligraphy, you can certainly appreciate the subtle aesthetics of line and stroke,” says Jinyoung Jin, the center’s director of cultural programs.
The Wang Center hosts a four-part Chinese calligraphy workshop in conjunction with Stony Brook’s Confucius Institute.
“Chinese calligraphy is the traditional art of writing characters from the Chinese language using a brush and ink,” Jin says. “It is the root of many other forms of Chinese cultural art, and works of calligraphy can be seen adorning the walls of shops, offices and houses almost everywhere in China.”
No familiarity with calligraphy is required. Classes are open to children and adults, although those younger than 9 must be accompanied by an adult.
Participants will learn how to write Chinese characters in standard script with a calligraphy brush and will leave with their own works by the series’ end. All materials will be provided, including a brush, ink and an ink stone.
In present-day China, calligraphy is taught to children of all ages and practiced in school and at home. Jin hopes that participants are made aware of how Chinese calligraphy shaped more than just letters and logos.
“Each letter is coded with classics of Confucius and ancient philosophy,” Jin says. “The workshop will provide us with the most original and insightful ideas about the nature of our thinking, our experience, our understanding, and the nature of our everyday activities through Chinese characters.”
WHEN | WHERE 3-5 p.m. March 24 and 31, April 14 and 21, Stony Brook University, 100 Nicolls Rd., Stony Brook, Charles B. Wang Center, Room 201
INFO 631-632-4400, stonybrook.edu/commcms/wang
COST $20 includes all four sessions and materials.
The Elegant Art of Knot Jewelry for Mother’s Day
Korean knot-making has been used since prehistoric times for practical purposes — to carry axes, swords and other tools for hunting and food acquisition. By the 4th century, however, it was recognized for its aesthetic appeal. There are about 40 types of knot-making techniques that incorporate braiding and ornamental shapes in home decoration and on clothing and accessories. Artist Karen Ahn instructs how to make a pin and necklace by incorporating the intricate knots while also providing a perspective on the history and cultural meaning of this art form.
WHEN | WHERE 1-3 p.m. Fridays, April 28, May 5, May 12 at the Charles B. Wang Center Chapel
COST $30 includes all three sessions and materials for two jewelry sessions.
Chinese Paper Cutting
Hosted by the Confucius Institute, this workshop provides participants insight into the history, culture and folk traditions of paper cutting in China, which originated as a means of worshipping ancestors and gods, Jin says. Participants will receive step-by-step instruction on how to cut paper into the shapes of animals, flowers and traditional Chinese patterns and will take home their artwork.
WHEN | WHERE 4-6 p.m. May 5, Charles B. Wang Center Chapel
COST $5 includes materials.
Korean Patchwork: Traditional Neck Pillows
Koreans have believed for centuries that more than just a means of comfort and support, pillow decorations bestow protection and good fortune on the sleeper, Jin said.
Artist Wonju Seo, whose work is permanently on view at the Wang Center’s Skylight Gallery, will teach a two-day consecutive session on traditional Korean patchwork patterns. Participants will create a pillow as part of the course.
WHEN | WHERE 4-7 p.m. April 6 and 7, Charles B. Wang Center Chapel
COST $60 includes both sessions and materials.