Ying Li wears a mask and pours noodles out of a wok as a masked student stands behind her in the VCAM community kitchen.

COOL CLASSES: “Chinese Calligraphy As an Art Form”

In this fine arts course, students learn the basic techniques of Chinese calligraphy, its historical roots and development, and its importance in Chinese culture

Course Title: “Chinese Calligraphy As an Art Form”

Taught By: Professor of Fine Arts Ying Li

Says Li:

This course is a 200-level studio/lecture art course. It includes studio practice, creating art projects, attending illustrated lectures, doing reading assignments, and participating in class critiques. Students learn the basic techniques of Chinese calligraphy, its historical roots and development, and its importance in Chinese culture, especially its connection with painting, poetry, and education. 

It offers training in disciplined hand-eye coordination together with an appreciation for this ancient and contemporary artform. At the same time, students learn how some Western artists have been influenced and inspired by Chinese calligraphy and built on its techniques in their own work. 

The core of this course is to create your own art based on what you have learned from the art form of Chinese calligraphy. I believe that the study of art, especially art from different cultures, is central to a liberal education. It expands students’ imaginations, encourages individual expression and personal growth. 

I created this course to widen the range of offerings in the Fine Arts Department. I want it to serve as a bridge, using this unique art form, connecting students in all fields—the sciences, social sciences, as well as the humanities. I hope it gives our students an unique experience of looking and making art using different approaches and from different perspectives. 

I hope this course is a meaningful addition to the best liberal arts education we can offer to our students at Haverford. Hopefully, the unique experience of this class will stay with my students throughout their lives. 

[In addition to calligraphy, we also had a very successful Chinese cooking event ahead of Thanksgiving break.] I wanted to have a Thanksgiving event with my class to celebrate being together in person for this year’s Thanksgiving, and thank each other for being a part of Haverford community, for helping each other going through this hard time.

Cooking is an important part of any culture. In Chinese culture, the activity of cooking and eating together with family and friends are often associated with painting, writing, calligraphy, and poems. In this event, my students painted the ingredients first—vegetables, herbs, bottles of sauces, fruits. Then we prepared and cooked them together, according to colors, shapes, and textures. The feast was visually appealing and delicious since it was created by artists! 

Learn more about other seminars offered by the Fine Arts Department

Cool Classes

A series highlighting interesting, unusual, and unique courses that enrich the Haverford College experience.