Huang, visiting EU scholar, hosts exhibit in Baron-Forness

Category:  The Arts
Friday, March 27th, 2020 at 2:50 PM
Huang, visiting EU scholar, hosts exhibit in Baron-Forness by Hazel Modlin
Photo: Hazel Modlin

From Feb. 24 to March 20, Edinboro University visiting scholar Zhan Huang’s graphic design exhibition could be viewed on the second floor of the Baron-Forness Library. Huang came to Edinboro from Nanjing Xiaozhuang University in Nanjing, China, where he is an associate professor of design.  

He mentioned that his exhibition’s title, 重生 (pronounced chóngshēng), could be translated into English in two different ways: either as “Rebirth” or “Reincarnation.” After considering both, he believes that “Reincarnation” fit his selection of works best.  

“Reincarnation has a deep meaning to my graphic design, just like my life, just like when I came to America for the first time. I knew no American people, and I had never been to America before.” 

“There are about 20-30 pieces in this show, and I started working on them around 15 years ago,” said Huang. His work has collected a variety of awards over the years, and he emphasized several pieces in particular. His work varies greatly stylistically and much is heavily influenced by his Chinese heritage. Three of his pieces are described in detail below.  

“Design and Life”: This piece was awarded at the Busan International Environmental Art Design Festival. It depicts a 華表 (pronounced “huabiao”), which is a type of ceremonial column. He said that with a “huabiao,” “We have power, luck and many more things; it’s very important to Chinese life.” A “huabiao” is often shown with a dragon wrapped around it, much like the one that can be seen in Huang’s design.  

 “The dragon is a very important animal to the Chinese people,” he said.  

In addition to the “huabiao,” there are several depictions of Chinese daily life. The scenes Huang portrays are occurring within two Chinese words that take up the entire space: 設計 (pronounced “shèjì”). To finish the piece, Huang chose to put a 朱文 (pronounced “zhuwen”) Chinese stamp in the middle in bright red — the traditional color it is found in. 

“Flower and Bird”: This title covers two of Huang’s pieces, and these designs are unique because, as he said, “they’re on CD covers.” He explained that CDs are a Western invention, and in the past, it was popular to print work that was not familiar to the Chinese on the cover of these CDs.  

So, Huang decided to combine the cultures, saying, “I put some very important Chinese designs on the cover of these CDs.” For some of the designs, he demonstrated the important art of Chinese paper cutting. On two of the CDs, he depicts both birds and butterflies in order to represent “a good future, or a good life.” On the other two CDs, he chose to put Chinese calligraphy. He explained, “These words don’t actually exist. I created them.” He built off of ideas he had and created the words for design purposes only. 

“Craft”: This work by Huang was initially made for a company, and it shows various pictures of Chinese vases made of porcelain. Huang mentioned that in Chinese, these vases are called 瓶子 (pronounced “píngzi”), which directly translates to the English word “bottle.” He said: “Chinese people like these bottles because they are associated with safety. Many Chinese families will put one of these bottles in their living room.”  

Having a bottle in their living room meant that the family was safe from everything. Huang explained that this Chinese belief is not unlike protective objects that can be found in religious homes in the U.S. 

On March 13, Huang gave a short address, and he said that the director of the campus’s international office, a teacher in the art department, and EU President Dr. Guiyou Huang had visited the exhibition. 

All of Huang’s exhibition pieces are currently up for sale, and he said, “The proceeds will be used to donate [to] medical and health work in Wuhan, China,” a hot spot for the COVID-19 outbreak.  

“It’s the little things [that help],” he said.  

Huang’s exhibition reminds those at Edinboro that there is a larger world out there, and that there is always something that can be learned from other cultures. 

Additional Photos:

Photo: Hazel ModlinPhoto: Hazel ModlinPhoto: Hazel ModlinPhoto: Hazel ModlinPhoto: Hazel Modlin

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