Empty Hand, Empty Brush

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Chewonki Welcomes Guest Artist Kichung Lee Lizee for an Exploration of Eastern Calligraphy

Last Friday we were fortunate to welcome renowned artist and calligrapher Kichung Lee Lizee to campus for a special set of classes with our students.

Lizee, a resident of nearby Bath, has been an artist and teacher since the mid-1960’s with an impressive national and international following.

“Eastern calligraphy I learned is a living and breathing spirit, rather than the dead and rigid tradition of thousands of years,” says Lizee in her artist statement. “It is uniquely a form that conveys the pulsation of life energy. Through it, one can experience all aspects of the living spectrum. Eastern calligraphic form reveals the kind of life the artist has led, as well as foreshadowing the person one will become. It is the art form that manifests the self as a way of life or philosophy of life. It is a powerful art form that operates through direct intuition.”

Students from Maine Coast Semester and Chewonki Elementary and Middle School were instructed in the method of carefully grinding calligraphy ink from hardened blocks of carbon in low slate bowls. The slow meditative process of ink-grinding is itself an important part of focusing the artist’s thoughts.

Lizee commented that she sometimes grinds her ink for over an hour to prepare for a special project. 

With ink prepared, students then practiced copying a variety of characters, following different styles including “formal,” “informal,” and “cursive” variations of the same character.  

“The brushes and rice papers are unforgiving, challenging me to flow with the creative impulse and thereby convey the immediacy, spontaneity and close proximity of an intimate connection with nature,” says Lizee.

Lizee’s instruction and encouragement were a wonderful addition to the art classes led by Sue West and Coreysha Stone, and we are grateful to have spent an afternoon with this fascinating art form.

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