The Aesthetics of Nirvana Series
Word into Art
039 Graham Memorial, UNC-Chapel Hill, Nov. 5 - Dec. 3, 2003

Word into Art features the contemporary work of four gifted artists representing China, Korea, Japan, and the United States.  Each of these four artists has been inspired by the ancient calligraphic arts originating in China. Chinese calligraphy is not only a practical skill for verbal communication; it also transforms written language into an art form with a venerable past. 

Chinese calligraphy (and its similar forms in Japan and Korea) has long been a source of mystery to the Western world.  Many eighteenth-century scholars in Europe, for example, saw the pictographic aspect of calligraphy as a solution to their own concerns about the shortcomings of language. Surely, they thought, if language could be anchored in visual representations of ideas, it could no longer be a source of misunderstanding. But again, regardless of the practical value of calligraphy, the tradition of writing as an art form has been rich in spiritual meaning for the Chinese, as well as for the Japanese and Koreans, and has spawned many aesthetic movements. Click on the images below for further information about each of the artists.

The opening reception begins at 6:30pm, Wednesday, November 5, 2003, and is free and open to the public.

Hyae-bae Kim, winner of the prestigious Shinsaimdang award in Korea, was a pioneer as a female intellectual and artist.  Her painting and calligraphy reveal her self-consciousness about her own position in society as well as her reverence for classical traditions in Chinese and Korean art.  Her granddaughter, Haerin Shin, attends UNC-Chapel Hill and has generously supplied her work for this exhibit.
Mary Jo Maraldo’s work grows out of her many years’ experience living and studying in Japan, and has been exhibited across the United States.  Her avant garde approach is anchored in the tradition of Japanese abstract sumi art, also called bokusho, and also inspired by the ancient tortoise-shell scripts first discovered in China.   One of her most dramatic adaptations of calligraphic arts is to sculpt three-dimensional representations of Chinese characters, using a variety of materials, including rocks, metal tubing, and netting.

Chikako Thomsen, whose work has been exhibited in Japan and the United States, interprets the calligraphic arts according to the philosophical tradition of the kana style, specifically the kana of the Heian period.  This style uses hiragana characters that are derived from Chinese calligraphy, but have a character that is uniquely Japanese.
Cong Yuan comes from an illustrious family of  calligraphers and landscape artists in China, and his work is on permanent display in several museums across the nation.  In his own, reflective approach to the calligraphic and representational arts, and in his study of European masters, Cong Yuan has experimented with ways in which he can modify traditional Chinese art forms to suit “the digital age.” 

"Word into Art" is coordinated by Professors Inger Brodey and Jan Bardsley
The graduate student curator is Paul Worley
Special thanks to Randi Davenport, Associate Director, James M. Johnston Center, for making this exhibit possible.

"Word into Art" has been generously supported by grants from

The James M. Johnston Center for Undergraduate Excellence, UNC-Chapel Hill

Asian/Pacific Studies Institute, Duke University

 Carolina Asia Center, UNC- Chapel Hill

  Curriculum in Comparative Literature, UNC- Chapel Hill

  Curriculum in Asian Studies, UNC- Chapel Hill