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Studio M: John Chang

In Ink—Transformation of Calligraphy

Text/Context 01, Acrylic and shipping boxes on wood panel 2021  


John Chang: In Ink—Transformation of Calligraphy will be exhibited in the Massillon Museum’s Studio M from June 26 through August 11, 2021.

In Ink accentuates the visual and human aspects of the characters, the mark, and the gesture, transcending the text and the medium, extracting from language meaning beyond its surface value.

Born and raised in Shanghai, China, John Chang is now based in Southern California. A podcast interview with the artist will be posted on Tuesday, July 20, at noon. His artwork can be seen on Instagram at John Chang @johnychang and JCStudio @johnchangstudio. 

Chang writes: "Calligraphy expresses the shared space of the personal and the political. Chinese students must devote many years to memorizing several thousand characters. Each character must be written flawlessly and must be both neat and pleasing to the eye, and such rote exercises condition one to submit to authority. In the public square and all walls everywhere, big calligraphic characters were a constant reminder of a collective voice, and so people discounted the empty rhetoric of the official media. Yet in classical Chinese, the script, or shu, is so sacred that it is believed to be capable of affecting change in the natural order of things. By invoking calligraphic forms, I am commenting on the distortion of language, but I am also reclaiming the energy of the written word. Tapping into my ancestral roots, I also use pigments for their symbolic power. For example, black and white are the colors of most ink painting but also represent yin and yang; red and yellow represent happiness, wealth, and health. I consider myself a 'spiritual escapist.’" 

Chang’s work has been featured in diverse publications such as Pasadena Star-News, KTLA, Art In America, and art ltd. It is in the collections of San Diego International Airport; San Diego Civic Art Collection; The Star Hotel, Sydney, Australia; Caesars Palace, Las Vegas, NV; St. Regis Hotel, New York City, NY; and National Taiwan Museum of Fine Art, Taiwan. 

"We are thrilled to host artwork by an internationally recognized artist, showing his bold and nuanced paintings in Studio M,” says Studio M Coordinator Emily Vigil. "Chang's elegant and dynamic paintings will fill Studio M with graphic, high contrast shapes, lines and forms, enveloping viewers as if they are descending into letter forms and calligraphy itself. This journey into transformed calligraphy leads viewers to think about communication itself, across Eastern and Western cultures.”

His works have been widely exhibited, including: Alexander Brest Museum at Jacksonville University, Jacksonville, FL; Fresh Paint Art Gallery, Culver City, CA; Palm Springs Art Museum, Palm Springs, CA, and Coos Art Museum, Coos Bay, OR.  

In addition to regular hours, Chang’s Studio M exhibition can be seen on Saturdays, June 26 and July 31, from 5:00 to 7:00 p.m., during Massillon’s monthly Last Saturday event. 

Visitors to the Chang exhibition can also see A Thrilling Act: The Art of Anthony Eterovich (1916–2011) in the Aultman Health Foundation Gallery and Canton Artists League: The Show Must Go On (through July 25, 2021) in the Fred F. Silk Community Room Gallery. 

Additionally, MassMu guests can visit the second-floor Paul Brown Museum to see Flu and Football (July 31 through January 9, 2022) and the 30 x 8-foot Paul Brown/Massillon Tiger timeline. Eterovich’s Contemporaries can be viewed in the Flex Gallery through January 2, 2022. The Local History Gallery, Albert E. Hise Fine and Decorative Arts Gallery, Photography Gallery, and Immel Circus are always on display.

Studio M is a dedicated space made available by the Museum’s expansion project to exhibit the work of contemporary artists. The gallery hosts eight exhibitions each year.

The Massillon Museum receives operating support from the Ohio Arts Council and ArtsinStark, as well as marketing support from Visit Canton.

Exhibitions can be seen during regular MassMu hours, Tuesday through Saturday 9:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. and Sunday 2:00 to 5:00 p.m.  The Museum extends its hours, 5:00 to 7:00 p.m., on the last Saturday of each month to participate in Massillon’s Last Saturday. 

MassMu is located at 121 Lincoln Way East in downtown Massillon. A visit is always free. Free parking is available on adjacent streets and in nearby city lots. For more information, call 330-833-4061 


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