Local elementary students keeping art of Chinese calligraphy alive
Published Wednesday, February 6, 2013 3:44PM MST
A practice that some consider a lost art form is being kept alive by students at a west Edmonton elementary school.
Students at Meadowlark Elementary School are learning Chinese calligraphy.
The once-a-week class held over the lunch hour at the school is kicking into high gear with the upcoming Lunar New Year on Feb. 10.
“They learn how to do brush writing in ink, properly,” said teacher Stephen Tsang.
“This is almost like a lost art now. Even in China, not too many people do calligraphy properly.”
Students learn brush strokes for certain Chinese symbols like prosperity, good luck, safe travels, and stay healthy.
During the new year, Tsang says the Chinese community typically decorates homes and businesses with red pieces of paper, with symbols for those similar phrases.
In the lunch hour class, students are able to do calligraphy on similar red pieces of paper and take them home.
“It’s fun and I get to bring things home and present them to my parents,” said Grade 4 student May Kramer.
Kramer says taking the calligraphy class helps her connect to Chinese culture.
“Even though my mom is from a Chinese family, she doesn’t know Chinese,” Kramer said.
Tsang says the art of Chinese calligraphy requires discipline, patience and training.
The training students get in his class is meant to teach them the basics.
“So if they want to learn more about it when they grow up they can definitely pursue it from there,” he said, adding, that’s how he learned.
“Twenty years down the road, after I finished university and had spare time, I picked it up again and some of that basic training came back.”
Tsang says it is his hope that in the end, he will be able to pass on the skills of the traditional art form to kids who could eventually pass it on to their kids, and help preserve the practice.
“I’m still no expert at it but I’m at the point where I at least enjoy doing it and pass it onto the children and hopefully it can keep going.”