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The Inventive Brush: Calligraphic Echoes from China, Japan, and Korea


Pao Arts Center
99 Albany St
Boston, MA 02111

About the Event:

Inventive Brush: Calligraphic Echoes from China, Japan, and Korea is curated by Professor Aida Wong and showcases the diversity of contemporary calligraphy, featuring the works of three Massachusetts-based artists: Mike Yuguo Mei, Michiko Imai, and YoungSun Jang.

Calligraphy has long been a revered art form in East Asian traditions and remains an integral part of East Asian and East Asian diaspora cultures. Each of the featured calligraphers are masters of their own art forms and have blended their classical training with innovation to create their own unique artistic styles. By presenting these works in a unified setting, audiences can explore the works not just as the words and characters, but as contemporary interpretations beyond the respective countries of the artists.

The Inventive Brush: Calligraphic Echoes from China, Japan, and Korea is a collaboration between the Pao Arts Center, the Japan Society of Boston, and the Korean Cultural Society of Boston.

Meet the Artists:

Mike Mei graduated from Guangzhou Normal University and emigrated in 1985. He is the founder and president of the Chinese American Fine Arts Society. Fluent in three different Chinese dialects, Mandarin, Cantonese and Toishanese, his calligraphy demonstrates communicating in multiple dialects using the same written characters. Each character or word is pronounced in a variety of ways but has the same meaning across ethnicities within China.

Mei was commissioned to create a tablet at the Gateway to Chinatown in Boston. He wrote the character for “longevity” 2,000 times in different styles that was carved in marble for a public park in China. He was the only living Chinese artist included in the 100th celebration of the Peabody Essex Museum (PEM) in 2003 and the only Chinese artist in more than a century to appear at Harvard University and the Boston Museum of Fine Arts where he was invited to demonstrate the art of Chinese calligraphy. His works are in the collections of the former president of Taiwan, Ma Ying Ju, the Worcester Art Museum, and PEM. 

Michiko Imai was born and raised in Nara, Japan, and began studying calligraphy at the age of 4.  She was a member of the Nihon Shogeiin (日本書藝院), the Yomiuri Shodo Association (読売書道会), and the Choko Kai (長興会) (now the Koho-kai 興朋会) in Japan. After participating in various exhibitions and receiving awards, she obtained a master's license and was given the name “美嶂-Bisho” by her master (Kikou Miyazaki 宮崎葵光).

She is a calligrapher who expresses herself by making her own scrolls and integrating them with her own artwork. She emphasizes the classics as well as experimenting with new styles as an art form. She has a unique style in which she rolls the paper into a messy shape and starts writing or drawing with an uneven surface. Many of her works express the true strength and softness of women. She uses the space on the surface of the paper, the space inside the paper, and the space above the paper to make the brush dance and play a rhythm. The tip of the brush is vital to the flow of the line. She is particular about every last hair of the brush as it leaves the paper.

YoungSun Jang is a Korean calligrapher who completed a Ph.D. in calligraphy at Wongwang University in Korea and Beijing Normal University in China. YoungSun believes that art reflects oneself in the present and should communicate with the viewer of his art through the reinterpretation of the patterns of Korean consonants and vowels. Currently, YoungSun is a member of a Korean calligraphy organization which participates in exhibitions in Korea, Japan, and China.

About the Curator

Aida Yuen Wong is Nathan Cummings and Robert B. and Beatrice C. Mayer Professor in Fine Arts and the Head of the Division of the Creative Arts at Brandeis University. She has written extensively on transcultural modernisms. Among Professor Wong’s publications are Parting the Mists: Discovering Japan and the Rise of National-Style Painting in Modern China (2006); Visualizing Beauty: Gender and Ideology in East Asia (2012); The Other Kang Youwei: Calligraphy, Art Activist and Aesthetic Reform in Modern China (2016); Fashion, Identity and Power in Modern Asia (2018); and Seeing and Touching Gender: New Perspectives on Modern Chinese Art (2020). Her books have been translated into Chinese and Korean. 

Gallery Hours

Wednesdays 1:00 - 5:00 pm 

Thursdays 1:00 - 6:00 pm 

Fridays 1:00 - 5:00 pm 

Saturdays 1:00 – 5:00 pm 

Sundays, Mondays and Tuesdays: Closed 

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